If you do difficult, important work, you may understand the value in differentiating it. A painter that creates unique works can be valued much higher than one who paints copies of images. An engineer who invents entirely new things may be valued more than an engineer who tweaks designs of bookshelves to fit different rooms. One way to differentiate is to identify your competition in a way outside the norm, by doing so, you figure out how to compete in a new way, and if you’re lucky your customers love you for it. When customers love you, more work comes in, and more works means higher rates. That’s always healthy. The only thing you need to understand here is some basic thoughts about evolution.
Bacteria becomes resistant to anti-bacterial soaps because those soaps kill 99% of bacteria. The 1% that aren’t killed then become the new basis for the next generation of bacteria which means the next group will have more than 1% survive the soaps and that will perpetuate in future generations. This is how species change over time. The interesting thing to think about is that the “competition” changes the species. In the example above, “competition” would be the anti-bacterial soap and the game would be survival.
When thinking about your work, it’s possible that a worthy competitor seems like something worth fearing, however it’s also possible that the right competition is going to change the landscape and create something entirely new about the way things are done that percolates everything. If those bacteria were instead facing heat as the competition, a new set of bacteria would arise instead of the anti-bacterial soap set.
We’re all trying to figure out, or should be, what competition frames our work correctly so that we can create magic that grows. If you’re a photographer, it may not just be other photographers you compete with but also, painters and caricaturists. If you identify your competition differently than the rest of the industry, it’s possible to create an entirely new model, and if done correctly, that new model should thrive.
Creativity and reframing how you think of yourself is an asset. Use it.