Choose Collaboration Over Competition for Better Business and Relationships

I used to think that competition was healthy. I thought that by competing to be the best, I’d be more successful, people would like me more, and life would be easy and awesome. Instead, each time I “won” and achieved what I wanted by competing, there was another dangling carrot that required my competitive spirit.

The problem was that I never really cared about the dangling carrot, but only the things I thought I would achieve as a result of getting there first; I’d be more successful, people would like me more and life would be easy and awesome.

If I am being really honest with myself, while I was typically in fierce competition mode at work, it seeped into my personal life as well.

I competed with …

  • friends in hopes of my life and relationships measuring up with what they had.
  • family in hopes that my life choices would make me as happy as their choices made them.
  • people I didn’t even know who wore better clothes than I did in advertisements.

I didn’t do any of this with malice or even complete awareness, just out of habit. First, fast, and best sometimes came before developing meaningful relationships and identifying what would truly make me more successful, well liked and my life easy and awesome.

Like other parts of my life, that has all changed and today I choose collaboration over competition for better business and relationships.

I write about simplicity. So do other writers, bloggers and artists. In many other fields, we would be competitors, but instead we are collaborators.

We chose collaboration over competition for better business and relationships.

  • Tammy Strobel and I got to know each other on Twitter and then we scheduled a Skype call to say hi. Today, we partner on lovely courses and have become friends for life.
  • Joshua Becker invited me to guest post on his site, Becoming Minimalist helping me to grow my blog and share my message of simplicity. We spoke together this year about minimalism and entrepreneurship and I am hopeful that we will collaborate on other projects moving forward.
  • Leo Babauta taught me the ins and outs of blogging. He showed me how to drink and enjoy tea and we wrote a book and course together.  If he is ever in Salt Lake City and needs a ski instructor or hiking guide, I’ll be there!

While I am so grateful for the work we have done together, I am much more interested in the relationships we have developed. They became my friends and add tremendous value to my life.

I can’t wait to go to Portand, OR in July to meet world changers like Joel Zaslofsky and Victoria Smith. I’m excited to work with artists, bloggers and entrepreneurs to lift them up and help them put their hearts in front of their goals. I look forward to sharing more stories of simplicity in action and guest posts from people dressing with less.

Collaboration over competition encourages:

  • meaningful relationships. When you are curious about another person’s life and work, a relationship begins. When you help and contribute, the relationship flourishes.
  • creativity. Two brains are better than one and once you start brainstorming and sharing ideas with like-minded people, the sky is the limit in terms of creative ideas.
  • vulnerability. Putting yourself out there and exposing your work or heart for criticism and rejection is hard, but you can’t enjoy love, praise and joy without risking the bad stuff. Collaborating with others makes that risk easier because you know someone will be there to celebrate or catch you when you fall.

Stop measuring up, climbing the ladder and tearing down others to build yourself up. It’s time to connect and collaborate, to support and strive for better relationships in life and business.

I want to hear about your work and get to know you better too, because there is more lifting to be done.



  1. says

    I spent all day proposing new collaborations with people, suggesting collaborations between people (that have nothing to do with me), or working on existing partnerships, Courtney. And then I come along and read this. The circle is complete!

    I’m flattered to be mentioned as a world-changer and I’m super stoked to meet you in-person at WDS! Don’t be surprised if I have some collaborative ideas for you when we talk next… whether that’s before WDS or at the event. :)

    P.S. I’m always game to hop on Skype and chat with you about anything, not just collaboration, high school graduations, or a second child being born in September (for me folks, not Courtney). I’d also love to know your opinion on what can’t-miss events I need to attend while I’m in Portland.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Looking forward to meeting you this summer and congrats on the new baby! I’m probably the worst person to ask about WDS events but I highly recommend under-scheduling because there will always be something to do.

  2. says

    This is a great reminder, Courtney. I used it as a reflection. I am not sure if I was competing with others, but I was constantly trying to compete with myself to always be better. While this may seem like a worthwhile goal, I sometimes ran myself into the ground. Well, I often ran myself into the ground. Collaborating with others – teachers, parents, students, friends – has been so inspiring. I have most of what I know from other people. Can we really learn in a vacuum? :)

    @Joel, congratulations on your new baby. Grant gets a …brother? sister? Bet you and Melinda are elated!

  3. says

    I completely agree with this, Courtney. I have a roster of green blogs that I visit regularly and I don’t view them as the competition, because our goals are all the same–making meaningful differences for the environment. We all have a friendly relationship with each other, we learn from each other, and we grow.

  4. says

    Oh, Courtney, you hit on a great topic. I’ve always been competitive by nature and in some ways it’s been a good trait yet in others…not so good. When I decided last year to begin my blog on helping people transform their relationship with money, I got intimidated after I realized how many voices were already out there talking about this subject.

    I decided to not let that stop me because each voice is different and each journey has something unique to offer. Like you, I’ve been so impressed with the people I’ve met and I’m so excited to see what comes next.

    You’re story is inspiring ~ Thank you for sharing your life with us!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Ree, So many people don’t start something new because so many other people are doing it, but you are so right. We all add a new perspective and point of reference.

  5. says

    Marvy post, Courtney! Certainly we can create more meaningful relations by combining and fusing our talents and it is BIG fun to boot. What an impressive list of collaborators! Who would not want to collaborate with them? Collaborating can be used TO better compete also in an indirect sort of way by creating better products that spring from goodwill rather than hostility.

  6. says

    I’m so glad you are highlighting collaboration as a far more enriching option that competition. Competition doesn’t appeal to me in the least! I know there are many ways I have collaborated since being a blogger. At the same time, as an introvert, I find it more challenging to assert myself this way. Your post is very encouraging to leap out of the bounds.

  7. says

    Thank you so much for this post Courtney. I have always believed that we never accomplish anything without the help and support of so many others….and that the journey is ALWAYS sweeter if we do it it with friends. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” I also appreciate that you shared some of the websites/people that helped you on your journey. It is a reminder to all of us to reach out and stretch our connection with others on the net who are doing work similar to our own, because I don’t think you ever really know what it was (or who it was) that gave you that “leg up” to the next level. And who knows who I can best help unless I’m putting myself out there? I’m amazed and delighted at some of the other bloggers I’ve found who write and share their work all around the web–Just imagine what kind of transformation will occur when we all manage to work together for the common good?

  8. says

    So true! Relationships are undervalued. Collaboration takes us all further when you open up to working with rather than working against.

  9. says

    Collaboration has so many benefits, with my favourite being how much you learn from and share with one another.

    I am so glad you are not just talking about it, but you are actually living and leading by example. We really appreciate your work.