Yesterday my husband called me outside to where my car was parked on the drive.
The first thing I noticed was that the side of my car, the wing mirror and the windows were covered with bird poop and scratches.
The second thing I noticed was a very angry little bird swooping down from the tree to fight with my car mirror and side window. There were feathers flying, claw-mark scratches all over the car and LOTS of bird poop. He had got himself really worked up.
I got very upset. I could see he was going to hurt himself if he wasn't careful.
He clearly thought the bird in the mirror and the other one in the window reflection were intruding on his territory. He thought they were a threat. He wanted to get rid of these imposters who were going to spoil his chances of success.
But the sad thing was, it wasn't real. It was all in his head. He didn't understand that the reflections were no threat. It was just him, fighting with an imaginary enemy.
In the process, he was wasting all his time and energy (and making a right mess of my car) and for what? NOTHING!
It was just distracting him from getting down to business and finding a mate.
And it made me think of you.
Not because you have a tendency to poop over my car, that would just be wrong. But I wondered if you might be doing some of the same things my fighty bird was doing? Let me explain.
Have you found yourself getting OBSESSED with competitors?
Watching their every move. Getting frustrated with their actions. Getting annoyed with them for building their business and trying to be successful even though you know you are just as good, or better? How many hours have you wasted on that?
I know in the early days I did the same. I'd waste tons of time and energy looking at what everyone else was doing, to the detriment of my business. If I'd put half as much time and energy into my business, instead of into someone else's, I would have been way further along.
Have you found yourself getting distracted by things that don't help you and you can't change?
Things going on in the news? Things happening with other people? Dramas. Celebrities. You know what I mean, right? Things that take up your time and energy and don't do a thing to help you or your business.
And how about picking useless fights?
Who, me? Well, maybe! How often have you got into a grumpy argument with a bad customer? How often have you spent way too much time working on self-righteous emails to people who don't respect your business? How often have you spent lots of time trying to prove you are right because you want to make sure the other person knows that?
In all of these situations we waste time and energy on things that frankly, don't matter and don't help us OR our business.
Focusing on competitors instead of our own business only harms one person - YOU. It's your business that suffers. Like my little angry bird, you're getting obsessed with someone who can't hurt you and doesn't even need to feature in your life. You would be much better to focus on getting on with your life and focusing on your own success. Right?
Getting distracted by dramas can take up LOADS of time, and for what? Yes, there is a lot going on in the world. Politics, world events, celebrity stories, legislation - you could spend all day, every day getting embroiled in all sorts of news but how does that help you?
It might make you worry - but how is that a good use of your time? Can you change any of it? How does that help you or your business? Like my little birdy, you're getting involved in a drama that you can't change and doesn't need to involve you. Don't get distracted, focus on what you CAN do and what you CAN change in your life and your business, and you'll be in a much better place.
And as for picking useless fights, well I've been as guilty as the rest on this one. Being right used to matter to me and I would fight to prove I was right. And then one day I realised it didn't actually help me OR them. In business, if a customer sent a grumpy email then instead of firing back a reply proving I was right, I decided to look at what the actual problem was. Usually it was miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Often, by sending back a friendly email in the face of their grumpiness, it would transpire that they had missed a welcome email from us that had landed in their spam bin, or they had inputted their email address incorrectly so they weren't getting the programme they had bought. Would it have helped for me to show them they were in the wrong and make a point of getting them to acknowledge and apologise for their horrible email? Or would it be better to help them get what they wanted?
I can't think of a time when picking a fight would have helped; when biting back would have solved things.
Now, I know there are situations where people try to pull a fast one. Where they realise they over-spent and they need the money for something else, so they will come up with an accusation or fib about your products or services. And there are ways of dealing with that professionally, without emotion and without compromising your integrity. You can still deal with tricky situations without getting into a fight.
But, like my little fighty friend, all too often we get drawn into a fight where there is no winner. Neither side comes out of it happy. You are both left bruised and battered and feeling badly done to.
So, you see my little bird who made such a mess of my car has a lot to teach us. In his case, he finally gave up when we put bin bags over the mirrors and windows. He went back to shouting in his tree and hopefully is putting his energy into something useful.
At any rate, he's stopped getting distracted and picking fights he can't win for now.
There's a lot to be said for that.