Assuming that your survival instinct is fully intact, you will learn from your mistakes and take great pains to ensure that you don’t repeat them.
If you operate by this instinct, you will make safe, sound choices. You will survive. But you will never thrive.
Case in point: Ten years ago I got into a partnership with a competitor. It fizzled out awkwardly. I walked away from the experience with a cynical view about the feasibility of such arrangements.
Last year I was doing competitive research on business development consultants and I ran across Ian Brodie. He works with service professionals and their firms. He has a strong presence online. He blogs a lot. He uses video as a basis for his business development e-learning programs. And he’s good at what he does. So, when I first encountered him, all I could think about was how I could take him down.
But the more of his work I encountered, the more respect I had for him and the more I wanted him on my side. I spent months procrastinating, but eventually my curiosity outweighed my concern, so I did something truly brazen: I commented on his blog.
Nothing happened of course, so I connected with him on LinkedIn. Then I sent him an email. Before long, we were in a dialogue. I interviewed him for one of my podcasts, I became a guest blogger for his website at www.ianbrodie.com, and last week he joined the faculty for my Practice Boomers program.
One of my biggest competitors is now an ally. He promotes my endeavors and I do the same for him. It makes no sense from the perspective of survival. But it’s proving to be good entrepreneurship.
So, today I remind you that history does not always repeat itself. The trodden path will not lead you to new horizons. For that, you’ll have to take a risk. Start with a small one and follow it with another. Have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off. Ask that prospect for their business. Fire that difficult client. Raise your fees. Mend that broken partnership (or have the courage to end it).
In a weak economy, people are far less likely to take risks. But your comfort zone will never be the launch pad for a breakthrough. If you want to thrive, you have to risk yourself. You can practice by commenting on my blog. Especially if you’re a competitor.