Community vs Competition

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Matti JT Stepanek

Today I am highlighting an organization that I’ve just been introduced to recently. And it has already made a huge impact on me, and I believe it is making a huge impact on the creative industry. It is the Rising Tide Society and their belief “Community vs Competition”. I found them while flipping through instagram one day and was thrilled to find a group that I shared so many of the same beliefs, struggles and ideas with. If you are in the creative industry and/or are an entrepreneur or solo-preneur, you definitely need to check them out.

When I finally got up the courage to leave the business major that I was so comfortable and safe in, and enter into a world that was so new and foreign to me, I was excited – and also a little bit terrified. After being in the art/design world for a few years, I noticed how tough it was. Designers and artists were constantly putting their heart-filled work and creative ideas on the line, only to get criticized, shamed or denied, even by their own colleagues in the industry. It was extremely scary. In what can be such a cut-throat industry, it’s easy to take the safe route, so that your work doesn’t ruffle any feathers, but that’s not what being creative is. Creativity is about new ideas that push and encourage new ways of thinking. It’s about innovation and inventions and progress. It’s about beauty. When the competition gets so heavy and hateful, that people are taking the safe route, something has to change, and the Rising Tide Society saw the same thing.

“I’d love to see an industry where creatives push each other forward instead of trying to push each other out of the way. We should quit worrying, there is plenty of room for all of us and we can all be awesome together. If one gets better at what we do, the whole industry is pushed forward. As you improve, we all improve.” – Ben Sasso

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any competition and we should all stand in circles, join hands and sing camp fire songs. Healthy competition is great and can be an awesome force. It fuels internal drive to invent, innovate and progress in the field. It pushes business owners to do better, either with what they provide, or with improving their customer service. But there are many cases that competition turns into a destructive force with shaming, hate, or cutthroat tactics. It leaves people disheartened and frustrated with the industry and discourages newcomers to bring their ideas and services into the industry for fear of attack. 

There is a difference between being focused on “winning” every customer away from our colleagues, than delighting and helping our customers so that they enjoy coming back to us. There is a different between going after EVERY client, and going after our IDEAL client. When we start thinking about community over competition, the industry and the way we do business improves, because when we are working together towards a common goal, the industry is elevated, respected, and strengthened. Instead of worrying that someone’s success is our failure, instead think of each other’s successes as an industry win. It gives us more credibility and respect in our industry. And when we succeed, we are pushing the industry forward as well.

“When creatives share ideas, innovate, collaborate, and support one another – it raises the standards of business, customer service, and creative artistry across the board. It elevates our industry as a whole and sets the stage for advancement”

It’s such a great thing to surround ourselves with other creatives that are stronger in skills that we might not be. That’s what community is about. It’s about encouraging each other to be better and supporting each other as we move towards the goal. So this week, I encourage you to use your strengths to help others in the industry and ask others use their strengths to help you. Follow the Rising Tide Society and start changing your mindset from competition to community.

Natalie Franke wrote an article called the Loneliness of Entrepreneurship, and I couldn’t have said it better. So I will leave you with this:

“Creatives and small business owners are especially in need of community. In a career field where many of us spend hours working alone in a home office and bearing the burdens of business in solitude, it’s easy to feel lost. I have been where you are sitting right now and I have cried those same tears. I have felt inadequate. I have doubted my work. I have worried and struggled and fought with every ounce of my being to keep this business alive. There have been days where I wanted to quit, roll my hands into fists and pound away at the brand that I’ve built until it’s nothing but rubble. I’ve seen doors slammed in my face and in those early years, I wondered if new ones would ever open. It’s hard to see it now because I’ve come such a long way over the years, but I have been where you are… and believe me when I say that you don’t have to do this alone. You see, we’re all in this together. Hundreds of thousands of big dreamers, risk takers, and ground shakers. Leadership doesn’t have to be lonely. It doesn’t have to mean going at it alone. We dare to believe that with our hands and in our minds, we can carve out a better future for ourselves and our clients. We have the audacity to take big risks and seek a life that revolves around our passion rather than a time-clock.”