There’s an old story about an army stuck in the mud.
An officer rushed to his General, exclaiming that, “movement was impossible, the enemy was only a short distance away,” and that if the enemy were to attack, “the army would be helpless.”
“Young man,” the General responded, “don’t you know that the enemy is stuck in the mud, too?”
“I do now,” the officer said.
2020 is a year of anxieties for everyone, business owners included. And a particular strain of anxiety I’ve noticed is over competition.
Many are anxious that their competitors are weathering this particular storm better—or are even creating positive advantages—while they struggle.
They have a haunting fear that everyone else is doing better than they are. Forgetting that their competitors are probably in the exact same mud.
That’s not a call for laurel-resting or lack of effort—everyone’s trying their best—but a reminder that they’re stuck, too.
That same General told a story about marching toward his very first battle as a commander. As he crested the hill, over which he knew the enemy to be waiting, he found the clearing empty, camp fires still burning. They’d fled when they’d heard his army approaching.
He never forgot the lesson—they’re as afraid as you are.
You may have a massive, well-funded competitor who wants to squeeze your business.
You might exist within an ocean of similar competitors, all vying for the same customers.
Or you might be new to your business looking to eke out a position.
In any case, remember that they’re in the mud, too. They have as many worries and fears as you do.
That General would speak of one other lesson learned from years of campaigns: That when all seems lost, when things look their worst, the person who can take the initiative and keep moving forward is almost certain of victory.
The lesson is not to take it easy, but to take it steady. To keep moving, even when things look bad.
To remember that many problems we face are faced by everyone else, too.
We are unique in our personalities and skills, but often quite similar in our challenges and fears.
Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear.
And keep moving.