As part of this year’s Design Week Portland, I dropped by several design agencies and film/animation studios in SE Portland. The level of professionalism and quality of work was off the charts. In one building alone, I visited over five studios that all looked and felt different. They all had their own identity. It seemed from the outsider’s perspective they had it all figured out.
It is easy when in these spaces to start comparing yourself to what you are seeing and experiencing and immediately discount yourself as anything but a hack.
But after I calmed down, I came to the realization: they aren’t my competition. The competition is in my head. I am competing against an ideal construct in my mind of what success looks and feels like.
What is the answer to this problem?
Every business book essentially boils down to the same wisdom. If you want to compete, you need to differentiate yourself from your competition. But this can be a trap and distract you from actually working.
As artists and creative professionals, they only way to compete is to create. The only way to differentiate is to work.
Who are you competing with? Yourself and the mental barriers erected to prevent you from doing the one thing that will set you apart: your work.