I had the best July EVER! July is a special month for me––it marks the month I moved to Seattle (a decade ago!) and when I first experienced the delight of drip-down-your-chin-juicy peaches at my favorite produce vendor at Pike Place Market (a weekly tradition now in all the years since!) It’s also the month where I officially became a mum, and somehow seven years have passed by. But this July was especially magical because it was #AmplifyJuly. I turned over my social media to elevate amazing creators whose stories we should all know. Some people thanked me for my generosity, but in all honesty, every single day we posted about an amazing writer, speaker, podcaster, entrepreneur and all-round rockstar–people who are making a significant difference in our world–I benefited. I learned so much and found my own mind and heart expanding, and at a time when it’s so easy to lose hope, being reminded we are in community and in solidarity felt more welcome than ever. Look out for regular features on my social media over the next year – and be prepared to continue being seriously inspired!
Caption: Me at Penguin Random House’s NYC HQ, loving being surrounded by books.
What I’ve Learned About Scarcity and Abundance
Many told me that it was extremely uncommon for someone with a decently large social platform to want to use it to elevate others. Someone even said: “Every day? Why not just post about someone else once a month? After all, you have books to sell too!”
I believe it’s not because we don’t want to help others, but more often because scarcity rears its ugly head: I worked hard to build my following, why should someone else benefit? If I elevate their book instead of mine, what if their sales outdo my book sales? Nobody shared their platform with me, why should I share mine?
I really, really get it. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say all this didn’t cross my mind at some point or another. After all, a campaign like Amplify July takes a lot of time to pull off (more logistics than I ever imagined!) and there were moments I wondered if it was worth having so many members of my team dedicated to uplifting others’ work.
But, as I’ve been reflecting on this premise of scarcity and competition in the context of all my work in DEI, it’s become clearer to me: systems of oppression want to foster competition, stir up jealousy, and discourage collaboration with others. We are conditioned by capitalism, racism, the patriarchy, and the systems of oppression that want us to fail—to believe there’s only room for one person, or a small handful, to succeed. And the further you are from the centers of power and privilege the sharper those elbows should be. This can be particularly true in marginalized communities.
Here’s the problem—that mentality and approach is hurting and harming us. In many cases, it’s killing us. Most of us are lonelier, more depressed, more disconnected and more financially insecure than any other generation before us. Much of the success that hyper-competition and “working harder than anyone else” promised us…didn’t materialize. Nothing makes my day worse than when a woman of color displays a scarcity mindset with me, because I know firsthand how much more powerful we would both be if we collaborated and approached each other with an abundance mindset—the belief that there’s more than enough room for us all to win.
So this July, I shared that I’m writing my next book: “Uncompete: Dismantling a Competition Mindset to Unlock Liberation, Opportunity, and Peace.”
I’ll admit: this book that I want to write doesn’t have neat answers. I don’t know, for example, if there’s a straightforward response to: “Does uncompete mean not applying for a promotion that will only go to one person because I’ll be pitted against my favorite coworker by my manager?” I do know that a system that pits people against each other isn’t working. But in the short run, I can’t definitively say, “Don’t aim to be ambitious.”
Instead, what I hope this book helps more of us do is ask better questions of ourselves and our communities, rather than operating in the zero-sum game mindset we have been socialized to believe. I hope we investigate deeper: What does success look like for me? Are there different ways to define it than the way I’ve been taught? What is the cost of competition? Is there a better way to live, work and be?
My fervent belief is yes, and the answer most likely lies in us intentionally choosing to uncompete.
I’ll be spending the next year writing this book, so apologies in advance for my disappearance from normal social life.
I’m also taking the rest of August officially off—eating my mum’s cooking in Singapore and snuggling with my baby niece while hanging around the island at my favorite childhood spots, with my own child in tow. You won’t hear from me until September.
Wishing you a joyful, restful and peaceful summer month.