During an Afrinado interview with The Designer Studio founder Wanjiku Nyoike Mugo, one thing really stood out for me, was her attitude towards competition and naysayers. It was something she told me off the cuff when I asked her how she felt about people copying or cutting down her ideas: “Those are just distractions”.
I was intrigued. It is such a refreshing way of dealing with the noise — those things or people that start affect your focus. You must first name your distractions in order to deal with them.
These are people who you may know well, family and friends, who though well meaning, do not believe that what you are doing is worth the hassle. Most of these people are of the school of thought that having a career means having a job with benefits in a swanky office, with equally swanky colleagues and enough money to buy yourself a BMW. Most times naysayers reflect their own belief systems and their fears have nothing to do with you. To counter naysayers, surround yourself with people who motivate you, people who are also in the same process of building their creative businesses and thus are more understanding. This will help buffer you the next time a naysayer tells you something along the lines of: “I just don’t see how that would work?”
The unsolicited advisers
Sometimes, the person distracting you may actually mean well, want you to succeed and know exactly how you can do this. The problem is, you didn’t ask them. They will offer their opinion anyway, sometimes, it can be helpful but most times it feels like a bug stuck in your ear. With such people it is best to thank them for their advise politely, explain that you already have a plan in place and change the topic, hopefully they will get the hint. Take their advise with a pinch of salt and learn to believe in your instincts and decisions, if you let them, the ‘Unsolicited Advisory Council’ can have you second guessing yourself and your work. Remember, you make decisions that are right for you, not anyone else.
Competitors come in all shapes, form and size. It could be an already established entity that you compare yourself with, it could be the friend who feels inspired by what you are doing and somehow copycats your ideas, it could be someone who is launching something similar around the same time. How do you deal with this? If it is a company you look up to, learn from them but do not let them be the only standard by which you measure yourself, if it is a copycat friend, you can call them out but that of course does not mean they will stop, let them go ahead with what they want to do but focus on your own plan and goals. If it is a similar product being launched, learn how to differentiate yourself, what’s the extra sauce you bring to the table? I liked what photographer Yagazie Emezi said during the EveryDay Africa Book launch in answer to a question about competitors: “I like to think of them as my peers not my competitors” she confidently corrected. You are already good by yourself, do not let what others are doing distract you from what you have planned and set out to achieve. Do you.
Are there any other distractions you have come across in your journey? Share below