There’s been a movement in the creative industry over the last couple years- the idea of promoting community over competition. But is that really something you should be involved in? In short, yes. And here’s why I wholeheartedly believe in it.
I’ll start out with a confession. I can be an envious person. I grew up as only child until my sister came along 11 years after me. Not only was I the only child for more than a decade, but I was also the only niece, grandchild and great grandchild. On BOTH SIDES of my family.
Talk. About. Spoiled.
While I wouldn’t change a single thing about growing up, I will say that I got pretty used to having my way. And it wasn’t because I threw tantrums or screamed or stomped my feet or disrespected the adults to get my way. It was genuinely because I was very loved and have the most amazing family who wanted me to have an amazing childhood. I didn’t grow up in need or in want of anything.
And maybe that wasn’t really a good thing.
As I got older and had to start adulting, I realized that life could get pretty crappy sometimes. While I had everything I could have wanted as a child, I didn’t have anything I wanted as an adult. I had bills and a job and the reality that all of my free time was used to make a few dollars, and those few dollars were spent on the necessities just to live. There was no yearly beach vacations, no trips to Disneyworld, and no weekly Sunday out to dinner nights. There was too much month at the end of my money, and it was a huge, unwelcome, culture shock.
I started to see that people around me were successful. They had their own businesses, had gorgeous homes, adorable kids, and most of them were way younger than me. And that’s when the ugly envy started to grow.
I wanted what they had. I got upset and depressed when I saw someone book another wedding or announce their pregnancy or talk about their next vacation spot. I found myself in a really bad place where I would not only be jealous, but I would actually start to think mean things about them. I would start to wish they would move away so there would be more weddings for me to book. I would stop commenting on and liking their posts because I didn’t want them to think I was happy for them. If someone didn’t hire me for their family photos or recommend me to their engaged friends, I’d assume they hated me and I would start avoiding them in real life. I only found hurt and pettiness and backstabbing from the ones in my industry who I went to for help. So I learned to put a wall up around my business and not let anybody in.
I was at this awful, miserable, low point, when I happened to stumble across a new organization called the Rising Tide Society. The whole message behind it was Community Over Competition. I showed up to the first event late and planned to leave early. I wasn’t entirely sure you could run a business and not be competitive. I didn’t know any other way to be.
There was something different about the people I met that day. They asked what I did and where I wanted my business to be. They actually offered help and suggestions and ideas. They truly wanted to see me succeed and grow. I met some people I couldn’t imagine not being friends with, and I constantly get to meet more amazing creatives.
I was able to break down that wall. I was able to dig deep and get to the root cause of some of the jealousy and envy I’ve felt. I don’t ever want to go there again, and I can honestly say that my entire outlook on life is so much better than it has been for years.
Community over competition is not just for the creative business owner. It has infiltrated to other parts of my life and is the principle for a lot of the decisions I make. Helping others to succeed in whatever areas they need to succeed is one of the best things I’m doing. Whether it’s in the photography industry, spiritually, in practical ways, or just in word and deed. We can all make it to the finish line!
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