From a young age, women are taught to compete with each other.
We're taught that if another woman has something we want, we need to compete with them because there isn't ENOUGH for both of us. We’re told there aren’t enough clients, customers, jobs, or men for us both to achieve the success we desire.
But competition is not our natural state— it is a learned behavior. Our natural state is to support each other as part of a community.
A UCLA study from 2000 revealed that, when faced with stress, women seek social interaction rather than isolation. As it turns out, this is something that started in the times of cave women. Then, women who developed and maintained social alliances were better able to care for their offspring during stressful times, especially when these alliances were forged with other women.
If collaboration is our natural state, and we recognize that competition is a learned behavior, then the next question is: why isn’t collaboration the norm? Why do we insist upon subscribing to the ubiquitous and detrimental notion that there is a scarcity of resources, and we must compete with one another for our fair share?
Over the past year, I built a company with a woman who could be considered my direct competition. We do many of same things professionally. We both serve women. We both live in Los Angeles.
So why would I link arms with a woman who could “steal all of my incoming business?” The answer is: because there IS enough to go around. Over the past year I’ve learned three very important truths about collaborating with other women:
- We can't do it alone. And, in fact, we’re both better together.
- Success breeds success. Being surrounded by women who are succeeding makes it more possible for ME to succeed, and vice versa. (It has a ripple effect.)
- Exponential growth is possible when two or more people strive toward a common goal together.
Take a look at your personal and professional patterns. Where in your life could you take more responsibility for collaborating with and supporting other women?
Could you decide to stop judging the women around you? Could you purposefully compliment three women a day? Could you plan gatherings with other women and share the stories of women in your community who are doing amazing things?
At the end of the day, we’re all in this game together. And the only way we’re going to achieve equality is if we stop fighting each other and band together.