Don’t compete. Create.

Competition and creativity. Sometimes they blur together. But in reality, they’re different thought systems.

Animals compete. They piss on each other’s territory and raid each other’s nests.

We humans can do this too, if we so choose. In fact, we do it a lot.

But the great thing we have going for us is the fact that we’re imbued with the ability — the urge — to create anew from pure Thought. To pull new ideas out of the ether and make them manifest in the physical world instead of having to rip them out of someone else’s fingers.

When we compete, we aim to take from others what’s already been created instead of creating something ourselves.

This is not creativity. This is quid pro quo. Tit for tat. We become slaves to what we can get or bargain from others.

When we create, we become free.

Sure, there are a lot of people who’ve built spiffy-looking lives from the competitive mindset. They monopolize, swindle, and take as much as they can — often by using ‘legal’ means.

But I think if you look closely, as much cheddar as they have in their bank accounts, you’ll find many of them to be emotionally, mentally, and creatively bankrupt.

As much money as they have, they live with a sense of needing more. Of never having enough. Of deep paranoia. And of knowing that one day, the jig will be up once someone else comes along and is better at the game than them.

When we step out of this game, we can become creators. Instead of looking at what we can take from out there, we can sink back into our own consciousness and tap the unlimited storehouse of creativity that flows beneath us all.

Now, I’m not knocking good, clean competition.

If you look at any star athlete, it may seem that they’re competing. But they’re not. They may have at one point of their career. Sometimes for a long time. But then something shifts.

At the top of his game, Michael Jordan wasn’t exactly competing. Those that played against him were. But he was in a full creative flow.

Just like Tiger Woods back before his wife took that nine-iron to his face. He hit shots that most mortals didn’t even consider humanly possible. And he pulled them off regularly in clutch situations.

This is not competing. This is creation.

We can say the same for anyone at the upper levels of their art/sport/craft. These people have risen above the competitive nature of the world and are straight up floooowwing with creative awesomeness.

When we come from this place, we know that we don’t need — or even want — what the other guy has. Because it’s in the creation of it that adds so much value to it — in both the marketplace and our souls.

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Jonas writes daily essays and meditations here at Medium. To get them delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they’re live, click here.