We are our own competition

No doubt you are familiar with Pogo’s famous quote: “I have seen the enemy, and he is us!” The reason that quote has remained so endearingly popular with us is, unconsciously, we know it is true.

And note, I’ve emphasized the word, unconsciously. Because, on the other hand, consciously, we try to convince ourselves it’s not our fault that something didn’t happen the way it was supposed to happen: our excuses are, there’s too much competition; people are always undercut my prices; my employees don’t have to work more than eight hours a day, so why should I have to? The list of excuses goes on and on. I’ll give you a real-life example of what I mean by our own attitude and lack of thinking that causes us to fail so often.

I’m retired now, but I was in the sign painting and promotion business in my younger years. One day a fellow came and wanted me to make up some promotional flyers advertising his new start-up business: postal home delivery. Since we don’t have mail home delivery in our town: only post-office boxes, on the surface, this seemed like a good opportunity to fill a service need that was not available in our town before his arrival.

I asked him, since this was a new business venture in town, if he had done a survey to see if people wanted postal home delivery. He never did answer me directly, but assured me, that, being a retired postal worker himself, home delivery in a town that didn’t have home delivery, was a good idea.

Long story short, his business was a total disaster that never lasted out the year. In an angry huff, he and his wife packed up and left town. In a parting editorial letter to our local paper, he bitterly complained that the townspeople were too backwards to appreciate the service—home postal delivery—that he was willing to supply.

I can’t speak for other towns, but for us, we don’t need—nor want home delivery. For us, the post office acts as a community gathering place. It gives us a chance to briefly meet and chat with someone who lives on the other end of town and get up to date on what’s happened in his life since the last meeting.

In other words, our post office acts as a mini social gathering place: an excuse for going to the post office to pick up our mail that doubles as an opportunity to socialize. For that reason, most of us don’t want home delivery!

So, where to put the blame for his business failure: on the town for not wanting his ‘modernized opportunity services’, or should he blame himself for not doing proper research before investing his time and money in a no-win idea?

The same ‘blame-game’ idea can be applied to many of our social involvements. One of my present-day pet blame-game topics is our personal health and our present concern over the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. How many of you think the virus is to blame for a person getting sick from it, or even dying? Come on, now, don’t be shy. Raise your hands!

If the virus is to blame, why aren’t all of us sick? The fears also are that it is more dangerous to the elderly. If it is, then why aren’t all elderly sick or dying from the virus than there are at present? Could it be that the virus is more able to attack a person who has a low immune system, regardless if they are child, adult or senior? Therefore, the virus skips me, because I’m healthy, but ‘hits’ my neighbor who is careless in his health habits.

So, in reality, for the majority of us it’s our own lack of personal health care, not the virus that’s to blame for us getting sick.

A practical saying that I’ve always found helpful when I get into the ‘accusing syndrome’ game is: “For every finger that you point at someone else, remember, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

We could save ourselves a lot of disappointment if we would search ourselves first before looking at our envireonment for failed solutions and/or causes.

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