Jake sat in the rather basic wooden chair waiting. He was nervous, which might explain the bead of sweat on his forehead that seemed to be growing by the second and now threatened to drop with a huge splash to the floor!
The man sitting across the table was eyeing him steadily, not meanly, but intently enough to cause Jake to squirm slightly in his seat. Jake silently cursed himself for what he thought was a sign of weakness, and he also cursed the friend of his who had suggested he meet this guy.
The man across the table looked down at Jakes’ papers and that gave him a chance to relax and search the features of the older man for an answer to what he was thinking. He was middle-aged, no medals for getting that one right; he had a brightness in his eyes that not many people had. Jake cynically thought that it was no surprise seeing as the guy was a multi-millionaire and very sought after by all accounts. He was somehow familiar to him which he put down to having seen him in the papers or TV perhaps. But anyway, no answers were forthcoming.
Had his pitch fallen on deaf ears? Perhaps his sales tactics weren’t aggressive enough? Maybe his plans for promoting a strategy to take a larger market share didn’t hit the mark?
The man (he was now thinking of him as ‘The Man’ now) sighed and looked up with a slightly mournful look on his face. The droplet of sweat decided that its moment to fall had come and Jake felt his dreams splash to the ground along with that small, salty droplet.
His head dipped slightly and his body rigid with mortification of his failure, Jake readied himself to stand and leave but finally the man spoke, “Do you have dreams Jake? Do you have ambitions for a successful future?”.
Jake licked his lips in preparation to answer the odd questions and finally stuttered “Y, y, yes sir, of course I do sir!”. Again he cursed himself silently for the unwanted stutter.
The man’s reply came back like a snake striking its victim, “You and everyone else I meet Jake!”, he paused for a moment and then went on, “Tell me, to be successful, do you have to be more competitive than the others? Do you have to be better than the rest?”
Sensing a trick but not knowing the answer, Jake, leaning forward, went for the obvious response, “Yes. Yes you do. You will fail if you don’t. You will not succeed if you cannot beat the rest” he said firmly. Jake sat back in his chair feeling just a little bit pleased with himself and gave the man an ever so tiny smile. None came back and that mournful look spread across the man’s face again.
Something was wrong here and Jake was starting to worry. Actually he was beginning to think that this was a big waste of time! But then the man spoke with surprising gentleness and an emotion cracking the words that came out of his mouth, “Competition is not the only way to be successful you know. Perhaps you look at me and assume that I was the hardest, toughest go getter of them all to be able to sit here with my empire ticking along around me? No Jake. Far from it!”. The man was vehement now and continued, ”I’ve been called weak so many times. Meek perhaps, but not weak”. A wry smile spread across his face. He continued, “I’ve been told I’m too soft. That I don’t do enough to get the best price for my services. I’ve been told I’m not intent enough on getting the things I want. People say I look after others far too much ahead of my own wants and needs. And so the list of my competitive inadequacies goes on. And on. Yet here I am. Doing quite well thank you very much. What then is the answer, if it isn’t competition?”.
The man had stopped talking for a few seconds Jake realised and I shook himself out of the reverie his voice had taken him too. He was expecting an answer!
“Ummm so not competition then?”, Jake nervously asked.
“No. Not that”, he replied.
Jake felt like a pivotal moment had arrived and he started racking his brains for the solution. More sweat was forming, on his brow and hands, this time unnoticed as Jake frantically searched in his mind for the answer. He knew his future here depended on it but he was struggling. Surely being the best, the smartest, the hardest working competitive person was how it was done?
Cursing his friend again suddenly reminded him what she had said to him about The Man. “He’s a creator Jake.”, she had said. “You could say he has got where he is by creating the business firstly in his mind, then by acting upon his visions of creativity”.
The penny dropped and Jake looked up into the mans face, the smile a real one this time.
“You create what you want by first visioning it in your mind, then working towards it as though it was already there!”.
A huge smile spread across the mans face as he stood up and held out his hand. Jake took it but not before wiping the sweat from his palms.
Related: Creative Capitalism