Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people

Pablo Picasso was brilliant.

His genius was not the result of competing with another artist. He was entirely unique, in his own league.

It upsets me to see people deceived.

I believe the greatest deception in our society today relates to competition. People compete with each other too much, which stifles creative growth .

Artists compete with other artists. Yet they are entirely different personalities with strengths in different areas.

pablo picasso girl before a mirror Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people

“Girl Before a Mirror” (1932) by Pablo Picasso. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Oil on canvas

I have never considered myself in competition with another artist. Actually, I have never ever felt that life was a competition. I knew there was no other person one earth like me therefore, I had no need to compete with them.

Dan Johnson is an artist from England. He founded the successful art website http://rightbrainrockstar.com . We’re both professional artists and online bloggers. Dan and I recently met online and there’s absolutely no sign of competition. It’s a nice genuine relationship. We’re generous with each other in art and business . Not trying to hide information, destroy or undermine one another in a competition.

Rather we share, support, encourage and compliment each other. As you will see in the skype video interview below Dan discusses his art background, Google+ , Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest and the importance of maintaining a balanced business.


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But often businessmen compete with other businessmen. Friends compete over the latest technology gadgets. Mums compete over their babies. Fathers compete over a house or car. Some professionals even compete over how hard they work! Silly stuff.

Especially in well developed western societies, people unfortunately learn that life is one big race for possessions. This is a massive deception, which stifles people’s freedom and creativity.

Point 1: Many people think they need to compete to receive their ‘piece of the pie’ in the world.

However, I do understand that competition can be healthy in some areas of life including sport. But too much focus on competing, gives people a distorted message about life.

Excessive competition leads to

a) exhaustion

b) copycat mentality

c) low self esteem

d) depletes creativity

e) starves originality

f) stifles freedom

g) creates the seagull mentality

h) creates boredom

i) at worst, leads to violence

But what happens mostly when people are busy looking at other people competing with each other, like seagulls competing over a dirty chip on the pavement, they miss out on discovering the amazing creative ability within themselves.

An aspect inside everybody that is so unique that no other person on the planet can compete with. Its impossible to compete on this level. When individuals find their unique creative ability, they can leave the dirty chip for the seagulls and begin feeding upon the most expensive restaurants in the world.

Point 3: If people are constantly in ‘competition mode’ they miss out on the creative value within themselves.

I tell my tertiary students, that good art teachers are employed to bring out the individual creative specialness in a student. That creative talent that is unique only to you. I try to avoid my students competing with others in class, it’s a waste of time, and will ensure they make zero progress. Instead focus internally, where the interesting special stuff resides.

Like the pie will one day run out. The student might be tempted to think, “I had better compete because otherwise, there will be none left for me”. This is a deception. The pie is infinitely plentiful. God’s resources are abundant and he has certainly planned enough cake for you.

Point 4: When the atmosphere of competition is eliminated, people are free to become inspired by following their special creativity within like Pablo Picasso.

One of the first things I tell my new creative students, during orientation day speech is this. “You are all incredibly unique. Out of the billions of people on planet earth, there is no one the same as you.” My students are not competing with anyone else because its impossible to compare an apple with an orange. Why waste time and energy on a useless exercise? Find what you love and be inspired.

Point 5: In creativity, or any field of endeavour people are infinitely original .

But some fail to grasp this reality and they begin losing self-confidence or self esteem. People often begin to compare themselves to others and compete on many different levels. Thinking they are beating their opponent by owning a better car or multi-story house. Competition is a big deception. After many years teaching tertiary level students in diploma, bachelor and masters level, I have come to this conclusion…

Point 6: Competition mostly creates mediocrity and mainstream unoriginal results.

Pablo Picasso, DaVinci , Einstein, or Plato wouldn’t have achieved such enormous success in their lives if they were primarily concerned with their next door neighbour competing for trivial matters. No, they were unique. They were concerned with more important questions about creativity.

These brilliant creative men were seeking answers to questions that lay deep within themselves. Deep within the universe. Questions that needed answers, that couldn’t be found by looking over their shoulder, envious of other people, feeling like they needed to compete to ‘keep up with the Jones’.

Envy, jealousy and competition is low level of thinking but unfortunately saturates our society. This type of thinking creates an even lower level of living. Similar to the pavement seagull, fighting over a dirty chip, making heaps of noise with a whole lot of effort.  For very little reward.

So lets avoid “keeping up with the Jones’” but rather be unique giving encouragement, support and strengthening people by igniting their creative spark within. This is guaranteed to make others feel invincible and very special just like Pablo Picasso.

Please leave your ideas in the comments box below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people