Don’t Compete, Collaborate!

This has been an exciting week of forging new alliances! On the sound side, I’ve started working with two very different female artists, both of whose music I enjoy. (This makes mixing a pleasure, but has its downsides when I’m still all vibed up on a great earworm at bedtime – I can’t stand still behind the desk if I’m into the band, and I find myself boogieing away with the day’s tunes in my head when I’m supposed to be asleep!) I really enjoy the rehearsal process of getting good foundations in place and building monitor mixes, piecing together the homework that I and the artists and musicians have done and hearing it evolve into the eventual show. When everyone gets on well, and the music lights me up, it’s a hugely enjoyable process. A satisying yin and yang of the analytical and technical, alongside the creative and musical. An alliance in itself.

On the yoga side, I’m one quarter of a new collective of yoga teachers who meet regularly to teach, practise and learn from one another. We come together at the wonderful studio I’ve been going to for many years, The Yoga Hutch, owned and run by my longtime teacher, Sarah Vaughan. The four of us have different specialities, and it’s a really interesting, nourishing way of deepening our practices and offering the Yoga Hutch students a more diverse and personal experience. In addition, I’ve started working alongside Sweaty Betty, a British creator of yoga-wear whose ethos of inspiring and empowering women through healthy living sits well with me. I’ll be leading yoga special events with them and luring more people into trying yoga. (My record as a pusher is pretty good so far – I’ve got quite a few people hooked. If I ever decide to branch out into crack I reckon I’ll be quite the kingpin.)

Much of this spirit of alliance has sprung from the wise words of two teachers, Kim Roberts and Michelle Taffe, whose online course I did recently (Your Fab Yoga Life, which I highly recommend to figure out your life’s direction, yogi or not). One of the course modules was entitled ‘Don’t Compete, Collaborate’, and it really struck a chord with me. It’s easy to be intimidated by the achievements of others, particularly if you’re trying to break new ground. I can certainly go all ‘shy 4 year-old’ when I want to play with the big kids, and feel insecure about what I can offer to these role models – how can li’l ole me possibly compete?

Well it turns out that competition is not the way forward – collaboration is. ‘Weaving a Web of Love and Support’ is how Kim and Michelle describe it, and I like that image! When observing people who inspire us and whom we admire, we can either listen to the defeatist voice which says ‘I could never do anything like that’; or we can say ‘I’ll have what they’re having’, and learn from them as elders who have gone before us. We all have our own unique gifts to offer, and you have nothing to lose by telling someone that you admire the way they do things, and are keen to learn from them or work with them. Naturally you won’t have a 100% success rate, but the worst that can happen is you get no response or a ‘thanks but no thanks’, and that’s not so bad. (I promise you, whatever Defeatist Monkey sitting there on your shoulder might say, people don’t generally respond to this approach with anger or abuse!) Many people are happy to offer a glimpse into their experience, a pearl of wisdom, or indeed an invitation to explore an idea further with them – and who knows where that might lead!

I owe many of the interesting twists my life has taken to simply putting on my big-girl pants and saying ‘I admire what you do. This is who I am, I’d like to do ‘X’, what would you suggest?’ Without that approach, I would never have mixed sound for at least three of my major artist clients; wouldn’t have forged new yoga alliances and be working towards hosting beautiful retreats; wouldn’t have had my written articles published internationally.

Try it: ask the question, plant a seed. Don’t listen to Defeatist Monkey, he wants to keep you small and scared, and you are a vast and expansive force of nature with infinite potential. (I know, rather hippy and frightfully un-British thing to say, but it’s true.)

Collaborate, don’t compete. You have something unique to offer.

Believe me – amazing things can happen when we just dare to say what we want!

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