“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” ~Seth Godin
I live in a pretty woo woo place. You may too: Taos, Portland, Sedona, Kathmandu, I don’t know, you tell me. Your town might be a bit more concrete and steel but I’ll bet you’ve heard of something that has become all the rage in the touchy-feelie crowd these days: holding space for another.
What does that even mean? To hold space for someone means when someone has a problem, you will be with them without judgment and allow them to have their own time and space to work out whatever they’re going through. How could anyone be against that?
Oh, people could be. People could be against it because it doesn’t immediately benefit them. They could be against it because it would take time, effort or resources. They could be against it because they are on an active campaign to find someone to hold space for them.
People, multiplied, are what you encounter every day in business. They are the marketplace. For all kinds of reasons and a few excuses, people are not interested in holding space for you as the merchant, the seller, the service provider. In fact, they want you holding space for them and are not particularly interested in reciprocating. No, your prospects and your customers as a group probably don’t have the Golden Rule in mind when they come into contact with you.
If you are thinking right now, “But I have such wonderful customers!” I salute you. Such fine people do exist. It is just that the larger market has no such restrictions. If you want to make a bigger impact in the world, you will have to accept that the marketplace as a whole has not yet achieved this higher standard.
This higher standard will be achieved though, one fine day. If you would like to be a part of making that day come sooner rather than later, then you will have to engage with those who are not yet on the “space holding” page. It is this very engagement that will shift the world.
The reason it is so critical that you realize that the marketplace will not hold space for you is simply this: if your business doesn’t survive, you don’t get to be part of the solution.
We all know people who act like they think the world owes them something. But I’ll bet you don’t know many successful businesspeople who act that way. The reason why is you won’t be a businessperson for long if you do act like that. There is a blessing in disguise in this truth. It forces you, dear businessperson, to take a good, hard look at yourself. It’s either pull yourself together or rehearse, “Would you like fries with that?”
There is another fundamental truth lurking here too. You don’t need the marketplace to hold space for you. In fact, you need it not to. It is not helping you to hold on to unsuccessful habits or unproductive positions. The sooner you rid yourself of them, free yourself really, the better.
This may sound all harsh and darwinian to you. It’s really not. There is freedom in truth. Any unresolved problem is just a clogging up of the clarity scene. Clinging to failing notions is not only unproductive, it is counterproductive. It rolls back the good and right things you are doing. You worked hard to build your skills and establish your place in the market. Why undo that with your own hands?
“The marketplace will not ‘hold space’ for you.” click to tweet
No, the marketplace will not put up with any shenanigans. It has very little humor about such things. But in taking this position, it is pointing you toward the things that work and it is hastening you to them. So maybe, in a roundabout way, it is holding space for you after all.
How has the marketplace schooled you? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: Travis Simon
2 thoughts on “The Marketplace Will Not “Hold Space” for You”
I was in a business once. I was doing fine, customers were happy. Then a bigger company came in and just took over. It was a minor amount of business to them but it was everything to me. They destroyed my company. How is that fair?
It’s not fair. And that’s the way it is. It’s more important to see things clearly than to gather justification for why we “shouldn’t” have lost out. With that experience under your belt, your next foray into the marketplace will be more attuned to reality and you will have a better shot at things.