Please accept my apologies for not getting the daily blog out lately. I have just returned from an intense conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I am back now, though! So back to it. In the future, if I’m about to head out for a conference, I’ll give a heads up. I had no idea my networking activity would be so demanding.
A consistent theme I saw while networking was competition. The entire time I was there I witnessed it – competition between schools for ranking, between journals for prestige, between students for job placement, and between colleagues for publication. (I’m preparing to go into academics.) The takeaway: I’m about to set forth into an incredibly competitive climate. But I have a secret weapon; that is, the awareness between the difference between hierarchy and territory.
In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art it’s said that “In the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways – by their rank within a hierarchy (a hen in a pecking order, a wolf in a pack) or by their connection to a territory (a home base, a hunting ground, a turf).”
To sum up Pressfield’s argument, most of us define ourselves hierarchically, and it’s likely that we don’t even know it. This is because school, advertising, all of the materialist culture tells us that we need to define ourselves by others’ opinions.
He says that this definition of our identity, which you will notice breaks down in places with a ton of people like Manhattan, is detrimental to our creativity. You will witness the development of the following characteristics:
- You become caught in a vicious cycle of trying to elevate your position in the hierarchy and defending against those beneath you.
- You come to define your happiness by your rank in the hierarchy, feeling satisfied at another’s defeat.
- You treat people differently based on their rank rather than other, more important, factors.
- You act, dress, speak, and think for others.
So we must live territorially.
What’s a territory?
- It’s the place that gives us sustenance, the core element of our soul’s nourishment.
- We love our territory alone. We don’t need anyone else to claim it. The work itself satisfies.
- It is something that takes work to be claimed. It doesn’t give, it gives back.
I’m going to leave his line of reasoning here. There’s more to it, but for the rest, I suggest you read the book.
In close, don’t get caught up in the competition. Just do the work you’re passionate about. Try not to think about the competition. Just have fun. Don’t care how praised someone is or where they stand in whatever fabricated pecking order exists. Just search for two things. First, who has interests that overlap with you? And second, are they a good person?