Get out your baseball glove. Dust off your cleats. Insert any other sports metaphor here that comes to mind. It’s time to compete. It’s time to find yourself some competition.
Why? Because, competition could be the key to your creative success. Often times we hear that competition is bad, that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, or that you need to avoid going down the rabbit hole of comparison at all costs.
Of course, we know there are some negative components to competition, such as comparing yourself when you are just starting out to someone who has been practicing that same creative activity for years – there is totally truth in that. But to write off all competition as bad just because there could be some negative effects of it is illogical.
What if the good parts of competition outweighed the bad?
What if you used competition to fuel your creativity?
If you played sports at any point in your life, you know that you don’t get better at your sport by just practicing by yourself or by effortlessly beating up on teams that you are much better than. Not even close. You get better from finding competition that is tough, from playing against them, and from learning from them. Then you going back and practice what you learned. That’s when you improve.
Why should your creativity be any different?
Not that you have to be “the best” at your chosen creative venture, but if you want to get better at it, competition can push you to improve. Competition can push you to work harder, to learn something new, to up your game, to force you to give your best effort, to figure out why something is not working. It can be the kick in the butt you need to keep going, even when you feel like giving up.
How can you use competition to fuel your creativity?
- Make a list of people that could be your competition – be sure to include people that are better than you at your chosen creative venture.
- Set a goal – what do you hope to gain by contacting this person or people? Do you want to learn something from them. Do you want someone to collaborate with? Do you just want to chat about ideas?
- Reach out to these people – make a connection with them (BTW – you might have to contact several people).
- Compete with them + learn from them. And don’t forget, it’s not all about you. What can you bring to the relationship? You might not be an expert but there is still plenty you can bring to the table.
- Go back + practice your creative venture on your own.
**If you still don’t like the idea of competition, just think about it as collaboration. Collaboration doesn’t necessarily have to be me + you working on something together, creating in tandem. It could be that we both create by ourselves and provide each other with feedback. Or, we could be sharing ideas. Or, we could be critiquing each other. Or, we could share resources. These are all ways to collaborate.
***One way that creative competition and athletic competition is different is that in the end, your creativity doesn’t have to be better than your competition’s creativity in order to “win” – you win by improving yourself, by practicing, by figuring out what works from you. You win because you benefit from all of the hard work you put into it.
This week, I challenge you to find someone to “compete” with. Contact them and get starting improving your creativity.