We live in a big world filled with billions of people, infinite possibilities, and more than enough room for each one of us to carve out our little niche. So why do some folks feel the need to hoard information and treat everyone like a potential competitor?
A few months ago a young woman looking to break into freelance writing sent me a DM on Twitter. She wanted to know how to pitch to a particular publication, what the rates were, and if I could share with her an editor’s name. This young woman was a good writer, her focus was similar to my own, and she wanted information on a publication I worked with. But instead of refusing to help her out on the chance that she might began taking work meant for me, I told her what she wanted to know.
Interestingly enough, she confided that she’d asked other writers, many whom I knew, for the same information and no one was willing to help her. She found it odd, but I didn’t. I knew that they weren’t sharing what they knew because they didn’t want to help the competition.
You see, the writing world can be very competitive. We compete for the attention of editors, for tight freelance budgets, and for bylines in publications. But unlike the other folks she had asked, I wasn’t worried.
And while it may be in my interest to withhold information from a potential competitor in the short run, in the long run, I’d lose.
Let me explain.
When we refuse to help others we are closing off our own opportunity to also receive help.
Many of my connections and “successes” since becoming a professional writer have come because others have kept me in mind, introduced me to editors, and helped me out when I asked questions.
Denene Millner, the amazingly down-to-earth best-selling author, has been one of those women. Denene has gone out of her way to introduce me to folks, give me tips when I’ve asked, answered all of my newbie questions, and has generally been the most awesome writing shero there is.
Has she thought twice about helping me out? Probably not. Does she view me, or any of the many writers she’s helped, as a threat? I doubt it. Why? Aside from the fact that she’s downright DOPE, she knows that by helping us out she is not jeopardizing her own opportunities.
And there’s the rub. Many people who are hesitant or refuse to help others are afraid that those they help may somehow catapult ahead. They are afraid that–especially in this uber-competitive world of writing—the ones they help may end up currying the favor of editors and therefore get all of the choice articles and the money that goes along with it.
But this line of thinking is troubling on a few counts.
First of all, it functions on the basis of fear. The person is afraid whomever they help will come to outshine them in the future. Secondly, it operates from a position of lack. They are worried that by helping someone else there won’t be enough opportunities to go around.
Both of these things—fear and the feeling that there is not enough room for everyone—are not only lies we tell our self, but they are also detrimental to our success.
When we refuse to help others we are closing the door on our own help in the future. Also, we are saying to God (or the Universe) that you don’t trust the process. If you believe that there is a plan for your life and that you’re determined to make it happen, then why would you worry about sharing a little information that might help someone on their own path?
When we operate from a place of fear and lack we in turn limit the opportunities we attract. We begin to hoard the little things we have instead of opening ourselves up to even greater prospects in life.
You know the saying, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”? Well a closed fist can’t receive a blessing, either.
Helping others does not decrease your chances of getting to the top–it improves them.
Along your journey you’re going to need help, support, and the advice of others. But if everyone refused to collaborate, share information, or offer a word of wisdom, none of us would ever reach our stated goals.
Remember this: Whatever is for you is for you.
Or as Ms. Oprah says, “I’ve always known that life is better when you share it. I now realize it gets even sweeter when you expand the circle.”
Do you struggle with helping others or have you noticed that others are hesitant to share? Please leave me a comment about your experiences.
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