Recently I was doing a photo shoot with a fitness talent who asked me if I know of a certain person. I hadn’t heard of them and inquired who they were.

“Oh, just this photographer.”

I shrugged “Sorry. Not sure I’ve heard of them.”

At this point the model laughed saying “That is kind of funny.”

Now my curiosity got the better of me and I inquired for more information.

“He certainly knows you and talks about you a lot,” she said.

Unfortunately he was not a fan of mine. In fact, quite the opposite. He fashioned me (in his mind) as his biggest competition and was very critical of me and the work I do.

Wanted James PatrickThis news came as a bit of a shock to me as I still had no clue who this person was or why they had chosen to make me their own version of public enemy number one.

If you really were competing against me – chances are I would probably know who you are.

Instead I have this visual idea of what this person might look like; working out of a dimly lit basement, feverishly plotting and tapping their fingers together. Think Gargamel from The Smurfs!

But regardless – there are two ways you can look at competition.

The first is to villainize them. They’re the bad guy, you’re the good guy. Now, this could work if you realize that it is not really a good versus evil match up and you don’t go around spreading slanderish gossip and filth which in the end, doesn’t hurt my business, it hurts your business. Now we are starting to see why I’ve never heard of this person.

Perhaps you reading this have been in a similar situation with another modeling talent.

If you look at life, and your business, as a zero sum game where every competition is your mortal enemy and every project is a life or death scenario – then you’re going to lose and die a lot more times than you will win and live. There is no victory to be found in that downward, vicious cycle.

The other option is to look at competition for exactly what it is. Someone else with similar passions and goals, working to achieve something.

Some projects you will get – some projects they will get. You can potentially learn from one another, push each other to grow, to challenge and to better each other. When this happens, the market improves and everyone benefits from the development.

Seems like a much more attractive option.

But… at the end of the day it is still your choice. If you choose to be a curmudgeonly asshole who spends his time picking pretend fights with those who never heard of you rather than focusing on growing your own business – I can’t and won’t stop you.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto