Why does a lull in business drive us too judge our self worth?
Most of the time when I write it is for others, to bring value to my readers, to create content. Other times it can be a little more selfish. This whole post started with one question that has been troubling me over the past few days. A matter of self-worth tied to business. One question turned into a cathartic revelation that I hope may help you be kinder to your self.
Why is it when we start to have a slow batch in business we question our skills and personality? Why do we suddenly try to remember every conversation we have had and ask our selves did we offended someone with that comment?
We see others getting work and think maybe we won't be hired any more, maybe they like that person instead of us. Perhaps we are too expensive, maybe we aren't worth it? And on and on it continues until we have spiralled into a world of despair. Living in a world of scarcity rather than abundance.
Perhaps this is why so many people are secretive with their work, unwilling to help others, jealous of their success because they genuinely believe there isn't enough work to go around. A rising tide lifts all, but what if the tide doesn't move and everyone is simply treading water trying not to drown.
How do we stay positive? How do we not question others motives or create stories in our heads about what people are thinking of us?
I pose this question not because I am above this problem, more so because I find it very easy to get into this headspace myself. I wonder if we are all prone to this thinking. Perhaps there are others out there secure enough not to be lead down this path. Is it simply they have enough work? I don't believe so, I believe some people are fully booked and still feel insecure about what others think of them. As there are people who may not be booked all the time but are content with the connections they have and are not troubled by the work they aren’t getting.
In the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, he talks about an epidemic that has sprung up in kids in the 1980's, 1990 and continues to this day of a rise in aggression, suicide, rape, pregnancy and STI’s and a dramatic surge in feelings of withdrawal, anxiety, depression, aggression and delinquency.
As a society, we all see it, we see it in the media, in our politician's actions even in how we interact with each other. More and more people have superficial relationships, disconnected from each other while connected over social media. Feeling like they never fit in, like no one understands what they are going through. Never taking the time to get to know someone or investing in that person. This disconnect we feel in daily life feeds into our work. While someone working 9-5 may feel they can't read their boss for business owners with more time on their hands, this can spiral into a mess of emotions and panic of when your next job will be.
So what is the answer? To be honest, I am not sure. I admire loyalty, connection, and honesty. It's a quality I strive to achieve daily, but it doesn't mean it is returned. I have dedicated years working with a team for little money for the pay off of when they make it, I'll be a part of the team. Only to have them be signed and I'm dumped like my three years of work meant so little. How do you receive the loyalty back that you give? How do you trust others to see your value if you have been dismissed before?
These are the questions that can spiral into dark moods lasting for days. Moments of despair, simply making you want to throw in the towel. How can people see loyalty and trust as valuable assets when our society speaks of nothing by dishonesty and instant gratification? How do we disconnect our self worth from our work levels?
In the book Darling greatly, Brene Brown speaks of your worth being centred around you as a person, not your external achievements. It's a great sentiment and one we should all strive towards. For if we are not governed by the recognition we receive or the work we are getting right now we can simply continue to create.
That being said, it's a lot easier said than done. I can sit here and create the mantra "I am not defined by my achievements, I am a worthy person because I am loved and I love others" but it doesn't stop that little voice saying. Yeah, but why is that person getting work? Have you noticed your old crew now work with someone else? Maybe if you just fit in more, they would hire you.
With all those thoughts muddling around in my head, what is my end goal? How do I break the pattern?
I try to reach out if I question my skills. Reach out to those I have worked with to ask if there is anything I can improve. Ask about pricing, competition, and if they did go with someone else why. Focus on my craft, what can I do to improve? If I am quite what can I do while quite so I am not at home waiting?
Finally, I try to give myself more love. This is the hardest part. As I have heard countless times, would you speak to a friend as you talk to yourself? If a friend was having a lull in their business, would you question their talent? Question their working relationships, question their work ethic? I would hope not. If I were my friend I would say, everyone goes through lulls in their business, it will be ok. Some times you have just to keep trucking along, for those who succussed are the ones that choose not to give up.
As Simon Sinek says:
Business is not about winning or losing, it's about playing to keep going. The infinite player isn't playing to be number one; they are playing to out last their competition.
One player is obsessed with their competition; the other is obsessed with where they are going. The reason the first player upsets their competition is they aren't competing with them. They are competing with themselves. They understand that some times you are a little ahead, and some times you are a little behind. If you wake up every morning and ask your self, how do I make our products better then yesterday? How do I make my customer experience better? Over time you will probably be ahead more often.
With a sigh of relief, I feel myself turning away from my phone, detaching my self from the competition I see on social media and focusing on my path ahead. I can't control if people choose not to use my services. I can't control whether people see value in what I do or not. But I can control where I focus my energy.
As the old saying goes, head down, bum up. I may not win this month, but maybe when I look back over the year, I will realise that it doesn't matter. I am still in the game, and that's what counts.
Just keep swimming.