I confess. I’ve said many negative things in the past about the multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that have sprung up in the last 20 years. I don’t like the way they operate using “pseudo” science, promoting extreme undiluted use and daily doses in water or capsules. I’ve accused them and judged them and called them names, and I’ve walked around with my feathers ruffled for some time. But I realized that this toxic anger actually harms me, and I’ve been learning how to release it. In doing so, I’ve come to understand how important this process is to my well-being. I’ve also discovered a few good things about these companies that I’ve treated like enemies, and it feels so much better to think about them in this light. The truth is, I’m actually thankful for them for several reasons.
First, they have been the single most influential factor in the exponential increase of people using essential oils throughout the last 15 to 20 years. I thought we did a good job after 9/11 of spreading the word on how helpful oils can be daily, but these companies get the award for inspiring the most widespread use in the masses. In a way, they’ve stolen my dream. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to help the world through aromatherapy, and these companies are so big now that my education has become a drop in the bucket. I still don’t agree with their methods, but they’re able to appeal to and introduce aromatherapy to people who may not have ever tried it, and thus they have opened a new population to the oils that we love.
Secondly, I have met some wonderful people who started in these companies but moved on when they realized something was missing. Many of my first-timers went through introductions and then became seekers of truth and knowledge. This makes “IPC’s” or “wellness consultants” a tremendous source for new students and customers for the educators and businesses in our field. Sure, some of these beginners may never move from their start, but plenty will, and they need the quality education and products that we already provide. Ideally, we should let go of the idea that it’s “us” against “them” and see that we’re all in this together. One by one, I’ve helped so many students see that education is empowerment, and that we make good choices once we realize what we don’t know!
Third, I’ve found that once these new students have some knowledge to work with, they begin asking great questions. They make us research and look into their claims, and that process can impact all of us in a lot of healthy ways. The whole industry has experienced a growth of knowledge and information in the last few years because of this. They also keep me on my toes, and of course they gave me a great lesson on anger, frustration, and finally learning to let go. Now whenever I hear them make a claim, I go look at the research for myself, which gives me a good mystery on which to follow up.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of a new idea about being in “co-opetition.” I thought I had invented the word, but here it is on Wikipedia:
“Coopetition occurs when companies interact with partial congruence of interests. They cooperate with each other to reach a higher value creation if compared to the value created without interaction, and struggle to achieve competitive advantage. Often coopetition takes place when companies that are in the same market work together in the exploration of knowledge and research of new products, at the same time that they compete for market-share of their products and in the exploitation of the knowledge created.”
We are all involved with our own businesses and careers, and with that there’s the tendency to be territorial and competitive. We all want to stay in business. And there’s always a hierarchy in competition, and everyone is always working to get above and ahead. In co-opetition, we see everyone as being on the same level and work with each other to bring up the quality of the whole industry!
Each new idea adds to our collective knowledge, even the challenges, and that means we all grow. And as we grow, we help each other by working together. So, instead of being against everything and seeing the situation as us against them, I propose we start seeing ourselves as one entity, working together in co-opetition.
So, let’s work together for the greater good of aromatherapy, and for the future of our freedom to use oils responsibly! and let us please support each other in our paths. The time has come for CO-OPETITION!
Spread the word.