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How Creative Peers Accelerate Personal Growth

You’re a smart, capable, creative person. If you really wanted to, you could handle whatever you wanted to on your own. You could grow, learn, achieve, and experience personal growth without help, support, or even friendship from your creative peers. 

You could…but really, why would you want to?

Sometimes, our culture applauds the independent, going-it-alone attitude. We like to see ourselves as self-made and self-reliant. But the reality is, our relationships with others are not only helpful, but vital. Other people can help us in ways we cannot help ourselves, and when it comes to our creative endeavors, our creative peers can help accelerate personal growth beyond what we could do alone. 

Here’s how.

They introduce us to new ideas

Creative peers accelerate personal growth by introducing us to new ideas, concepts, information, and ways of thinking. 

A different person brings a whole new set of experiences, opinions, trial-and-errors, and perspectives to the table. They’ve tried things you haven’t, read books you haven’t, and received training you haven’t. They see things with different eyes. 

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

Bill Nye

For creatives, new ideas and perspectives are vital. They keep you asking questions, thinking, and innovating. This helps you grow as a creative and as a person, because as you get curious and embrace new possibilities, you’ll start to see how you can change your life, the lives of others, and the world, for the better.

They offer support

Sometimes, you just need someone who’s been there. I’ve found that most creatives are able to understand other creatives on a deeper level, because they often feel and experience similar things. If you feel like quitting, if you feel like an imposter, if you feel like you’ve already had the last great idea you’ll ever have—I promise you, there’s someone else that’s been there. 

When you’re feeling discouraged about your creative work, you don’t need someone who’s going to tell you to get your head out of the clouds and settle for a life you’re unhappy with. You need someone who will encourage you to keep dreaming, and to keep working toward that dream. 

Sometimes, it takes a friend to push you forward. 

They offer helpful feedback

Here’s a hard truth for you: not everything you create is going to be brilliant. There’s always going to be room for improvement, and it’s important to have people you trust in your corner who will give you the feedback your work needs. 

If I ever choose to show my work to someone who doesn’t have experience in a creative field, 9 times out of 10, they’ll just say that it’s “great.” They won’t tell me what could be better or point out things I’ve overlooked. They’ll just give me nothing but praise.

“You should seek negative feedback. Especially from friends.”

Elon Musk

Praise feels good, but it’s not helpful in the way I always need. Sometimes, I need to be told how my work could be better. I need someone to encourage me to stretch. I need someone to say, “You can do better than that.” My creative peers are always my best bet for getting the feedback I need, even if it’s hard to hear.

(Speaking of hard-to-hear feedback, make sure to check out our post: How to Handle Feedback Without Wrecking Your Day (or Week!))

They offer opportunities to collaborate

Have you ever heard the Allegory of the Long Spoons? It’s a famous spiritual story that varies slightly from telling to telling, but essentially, it goes like this.

A man was given the opportunity to visit both Heaven and Hell. In Hell, he saw a group of people sitting around a pot of food, trying to eat. But the only utensils they had were spoons with exceptionally long handles—long enough that even though the people could get the food from the pot, they couldn’t bring it to their mouths. The people were starving, frustrated, and angry with the situation and with each other.

In Heaven, the man saw the same setting: a group of people, a pot of food, and ridiculously long-handled spoons. But these people were happy and well-fed. As the man watched, he discovered why. These people would get food from the pot, but rather than try to bring it to their own mouths, they would reach across the circle and feed the person opposite them. They fed each other. 

In order to get the nourishment they needed, the people in Heaven had to work together, to use what they had not to serve themselves but to serve others. 

Collaborating works in very much the same way. You contribute your strengths to the project, and you allow others to contribute theirs. You don’t waste your time trying to do it yourself, and you recognize that you need what other people have to offer. It’s good for the people involved, and it’s good for the project. 

Healthy competition

Comparison may be the thief of joy, but healthy competition with your creative peers can also accelerate personal growth. This type of competition can actually push you in a positive way and improve your performance. Inviting creative peers into your life can help inspire you to do your best work and tap into your greatest potential. It can also help advance the cause of creativity in general, as you and your peers continually push each other to do better work.

Of course, this takes a completely different turn if the competition veers into unhealthy territory. How can you tell the difference?

Unhealthy competitionHealthy competition
Maintains a scarcity mindset

Is rooted in comparison

Tears others down

Is willing to bend the rules to win
Maintains an abundance mindset

Is rooted in personal growth

Pushes everyone to work to succeed

Holds to values and ethics

Making sure to stay in a healthy place when it comes to competition helps ensure that the work is about growth, not winning. If you find yourself getting competitive with your peers, make sure you check your motives and do what you can to get them back to a healthy place if they get out of hand. 

Relationships make you happier

If nothing else, creative peers accelerate personal growth by the very fact that they introduce another relationship into your life. Healthy relationships are a large and important part of a happy life, as they contribute to:

In fact, human connection is now widely recognized as a human need, and the desire to form attachments with others is considered a primary motivation.

Bottom line: more (and better) relationships with your creative peers is going to make you happier. 

Whether your creative peers are at work, home, or in your group of friends, they’re essential to accelerating your personal growth and helping you become the best, happiest version of yourself. 

You are great on your own, but if you allow others to impact your life, you can be even better.

Let’s create happy–together!

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