Competing With Your Mentors

A great mentor will always cheer for your success.

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)

Three years ago, you may have seen the story of Joseph Schooling, a swimmer from Singapore who, as a kid, idolized Michael Phelps. Phelps served as an inspiration and unofficial mentor for him — pushing him to be better.

Then in the 2016 Olympics, Schooling swam against his mentor in the 100m butterfly race, taking home the Gold, with Phelps receiving the Silver.

I am a huge advocate of having mentors — I don't know where I would be in my own life if not for the men and women who have inspired me, held me accountable, and shared their hard-earned wisdom with me, both officially and unofficially.

That said, as you grow in wisdom, as your talents and skills improve, as you continue to educate yourself and produce the best work you can, you will come to a point where you will go up against your mentors for jobs, awards, or other opportunities.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or unfair about this.

Successfully competing with people you hold in high esteem has as much do with your mindset as it does with talent. Once you get to the level where you are competing against people who were mentors, you will have to give yourself permission to do so. If you don't, you will self-sabotage and you won't succeed.

Notice that I said give yourself permission, not get permission from your mentors. You don't need permission from them — your goals belong to you.

As you prepare for engagement season, think through what you want to accomplish next year but that you feel is too big a dream. Where are you holding back because you’ve bought into the idea that you always have to stay at least one tier below where a mentor is?

Maybe you aren’t charging what you should because it would be a higher rate than your mentor charges.

Maybe you’ve been hesitant to move into the luxury market because you don’t want to upset a mentor who works in that segment.

Maybe you’ve been turning down speaking invitations because you feel like a mentor owns a particular niche and although you are now an expert as well, you don’t want to “steal the spotlight.”

You can be respectful of and grateful to a mentor for all they’ve taught you and still go after what you want.

True leaders create more leaders and great mentors will always cheer for your success. If they don't, it's time to reevaluate their right to speak into your life.

A version of this post was originally published August 2016.

The Benefits of Journaling for Business

Allow your mind to breathe.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

I have a stack of journals dating back to when I was 14 years old. I'd been using the morning pages stream-of-consciousness method for years before I knew it had an actual name (and entire movement behind it), so I tend to fill up journals quickly.

It’s always interesting to read through old journals because they’re a snapshot into life at different points in time. Some of the goals I once had are laughable now. Some of the ideas or circumstances I agonized over then now seem ridiculous (this is especially true for all journals kept during high school).

What’s fascinating to me is reading through the journals I’ve kept in my business years. Some of the things I once thought were incredibly important don't matter to me any more. Some of the things I wanted back when I began I still want. And some dreams that I forgot about, scribbled in the early morning as a random thought, have come to reality.

If you don't already keep a journal for your business, grab a notebook and just write for a couple pages. You might be surprised at what comes out on paper. You may not see the benefits immediately, but over time they add up by providing clarity and allowing room for your mind to breathe. It's difficult to celebrate if you don’t remember what you truly wanted along the way.

Originally published September 2008

When You Should Be Stubborn

And when you shouldn’t.

Photo by    Cameron Clark   , Wedding Design by    A Charleston Bride

Photo by Cameron Clark, Wedding Design by A Charleston Bride

Every business owner is, to an extent, stubborn. You probably wouldn't get very far in business if you weren't. Most new ideas are met with resistance, even the best ones.

When shopping carts were first invented, grocery stores had to hire models to push the carts around so customers would see them, stop being afraid of something different than their hand-held baskets, and start using them. The customers were being stubborn out of fear. The store owners were being stubborn out of a need to increase profits.

Some stubbornness comes from ego. I've sadly watched companies close their doors over the past few years because they refused to try anything new when it came to business. Their newer, younger competitors used social media so to them taking a class on it was a step down, an acknowledgement that someone else may have been doing something that worked better. Digging their heels in because of ego left them ill-prepared to weather the storm when the economy and consumer habits shifted and many suffered irreparable damage to their businesses.

Other stubbornness comes from real vision — a gut feeling that what you are working on is a big idea that has legs even when others don't see it. To me, this stubbornness is valid. It brings a willingness to be misunderstood for a while, a willingness to allow others to think you're just wasting your time. In the end, however, you have great results because you stuck it out.

The trick is being honest with yourself about where your stubbornness is coming from. Is it based on a dream that you believe can become reality or is it based on fear and ego?

Don't underestimate the power of your ego as it will kill your business faster than anything else. Conversely, never doubt your ability to justify. Labeling each idea as not worthy to be pursued and never being stubborn about your valid ideas will also kill your business by causing you to stagnate.

Originally published July 2011