Competition or Just a Kick in the Pants


“The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.”
(Robert Cushing)


  • When Person A was the only game in town they encouraged Person B to pursue their heart’s desire, knowing full well it was similar to their own.  When Person B’s version of the business started doing well, Person A cut off all contact.  That was even though A’s business was not diminished but was even promoted by B.  Person A felt distinctly threatened.
  • There is a writer who limits herself to writing small articles now and then.  The reason?  Too much competition.  She says when she walks into a library and sees how many books have been published it discourages her that she’ll probably never stand out.
  • K. doesn’t understand why their career never took off while watching enviously as other in the same field flourish.  K. has much more talent than others I know in their line of work, but I’ve never seen them try to move forward.  They keep waiting for people to come to them, and keeps growing in resentment as others hard work pays off.

I found myself similar circumstances recently.  One of my friends was talking about preparing a book for publication – something I’ve been talking about for a couple of years.  She asked for some direction and advice. As she talked excitedly about it I realized that I had been kind of slow – okay, okay, lazy – in my efforts in that area. I thought I had so far to go, but realized that I really was almost there.  As I spoke to her I was surprised at how much I actually did know about it and how close I was to being ready to take the next step. It would have been easy for me to feel threatened by her coming close into my territory.  I could have been discouraged that she was moving at a faster pace and could easily surpass me.  I could become resentful  that she is probably nearer our mutual goal than I am.  I could see her as competition that threatens my existence.

Instead I decided that I to take this as reinforcement and inspiration – a kick in the pants, if you will.  I invited her to the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association meetings and Writer’s Renewal.  I gave her ideas of what to do next and suggestions for her to research.  I want to encourage her as much as  possible to pursue her purpose and to equip her for it.  I also want to see it as healthy competition – not to be better than her, but to keep myself in top form as I pursue my purpose.  To make sure that I am doing and giving my best towards my own goals, but with the realization that I am not the only game in town but am willing to help others succeed – even to a higher level then me.  I want her to be successful.  I want me to be successful.  It can be mutual.  In fact it must be mutual.


if you are true

Just One Small Step


This weekend I attended the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.  It was the first time I have ever pitched a book idea and I had appointments with two different editors. I’ve never considered myself a “real” writer, so it felt a little strange — kind of like trying out for a professional football team when your experience is limited to cheering on the game from the grandstand.  It was made sort of easy since I wasn’t emotionally invested in getting published.  While one can’t help fantasize about them saying, “Tremendous! Wonderful!  Here’s a contract worth eight million dollars!”  — at this point I just wanted some feedback on my idea.  Being rejected or hearing something negative wasn’t going to hurt my feelings or ruin my life.

As I began to present my idea to the first editor, I was surprised by the passion I felt rise up within me. My carefully rehearsed three-minute spiel seemed to burst into a life of its own — words and ideas I hadn’t planned on sharing popped out at what felt like a frenzied pace. My mind was yelling, “Shut up!” But I kept rambling.  I didn’t even make my three key points.  I was relieved when the editor cut in and began to give me feedback. I smiled and nodded and took notes.  I truly was appreciative.  She was kind and helpful.

In the half-hour between appointments I had a good talk with myself about keeping calm.  I practiced the three main points that I needed feedback on, which had gotten buried in my first presentation. I also worked in some of the suggestions that editor had made.

When I took a deep breath and launched the pitch with the next editor, it felt calmer and more measured.  He was also kind and helpful.  However, what he said he wanted to see were the very things I had taken out because the previous editor didn’t like them.  And he loved my proposed title, while she suggested I totally rework it.  I smiled and nodded and took notes. Again, I truly was appreciative.

I was glad that I had pitched the same idea to two different editors.  It was good to be reminded that it’s all very subjective.  I liken it to a job interview.  You can research and prepare and create a package that presents your knowledge, skills, and abilities, but you can never know if you mesh with their unique expectations and working culture.  If you don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you failed, it just wasn’t a good fit.

With a job interview, you rarely get a second chance, but you can pitch a book over and over again.  So I’ll redraft parts of my pitch according to the feedback from both editors and fine-tune what I don’t want to change to make it clearer.  The pitch is just one small step in the huge process of publishing.  I can’t get frozen or decide to bail on the process because I didn’t make a first down, much less a touchdown, my first time on the playing field.

How does this apply to what you are pursuing?  Let me know in the comments section.


Excellence is the result of:
caring more than others think is wise,
risking more than others think is safe,
dreaming more than  others think is practical, and
expecting more than others think is possible.



(picture from