It’s no secret the job market these days is extremely small. And if you are unemployed, it seems as though the job pool is always shrinking by the minute. Throw in the desire to work in a highly coveted field such as journalism plus the fact that the field is constantly being wiped out by the internet and you’ve got yourself in what seems like an extremely complicated 5k with merciless racers and a finish line you just can’t seem to cross. And in that 5k race, the competition is truly ruthless as they trip you, lie, steal and keep secrets from you.
It’s a 5k I’m proud to say that I’ve come out on top. My blog reaches a decent amount of views a day, I’ve had my byline appear in national magazines, I’ve found a balance between my writing and dancing and I’m able to schedule my own hours as I work from the comfort of my home. I’ve certainly had my fair share of competition and have been fortunate enough to beat a few across the finish line.
Not to toot my own horn, but it turns out others have noticed my ability to out run competition in the race. Of course that means, I receive many emails, Twitter Dm’s and Facebook messages from hopeful journalists and writers about how to make it. And with each new note, I respond with answers and a little bit of hope without giving it a second thought. However, I found out my response wasn’t always so common.
Upon my response, I usually receive letters of gratitude for offering my help and suggestions for breaking into the field. And then there’s always that one that makes me squint a bit and scratch my head as I try to understand. The puzzling notes usually read something like this, “Terri, I am beyond surprised that you took the time to respond to me and give me such valuable information. I’ve reached out to at least 10 other writers and haven’t gotten a response. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond and helping me out. It means a lot to me.”
For some reason, I just couldn’t understand why this one lady in particular received zero responses after reaching out to ten other writers. Assuming she was as gracious in her email to me as she was to others, there should be no issues with responses. Of course, being pressed for time would prevent others from responding. Churning out pitches, meeting deadlines and conducting interviews are all time consuming. Then it dawned on me. The demands of being a writer wasn’t preventing responses. It was competition.
Those writers who refused to write back saw their response translating into more competition in the future. I chose to see it as something else. I saw my response as the opportunity to level the playing field and opening myself up to more help in the future.
Think about it. When you help others, you are keeping yourself open to receive help in the future and propel yourself even further into your career. I certainly wouldn’t have the bylines I have today if it weren’t for the help several notable magazine editors and authors who kindly answered the questions I had when starting out. I intend to return the favor. And despite, successful journalists giving me a leg up, I hardly doubt I’ve taken any work away from them. Why? Because they were comfortable in their skills and abilities. Plus, they know there is enough room for everyone. Those who are in the same niche as I am and shared their connections, knew that helping me out was not jeopardizing their opportunities.
Meanwhile, those who think otherwise and believe that helping out the competition is hurting them in the long run are operating in fear – which is much more detrimental to their career than helping a competitor. Rather than trusting their talents and all they have to offer, they are falling victim to fear and the imaginary threat they see in their minds. Secondly, this fear lives in the thought that those they help will catapult ahead and therefore stop opportunities, jobs and much needed money from coming their way. Both thoughts are wrong and extremely harmful.
When we refuse to help competition we are closing ourselves off to the help and opportunities that may come our way. Furthermore, we are losing faith in the journey. It’s time we push fear to the side and trust that no matter who help, what is for you is for you.
When it’s all said and done your talent and what you put out will speak for itself. Expand your circle and your opportunities will expand as well.
Has helping others made you lose opportunities? Have you experienced anyone reluctant to help you because they fear competition?
TERRIfic Quip: A closed fist never receives a helping hand.