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“Amateurs Compete, Professionals Create”: How to Use Your Ability to Create to Recognize Your Personal Strengths

by | Apr. 25, 2020

Do you ever find yourself constantly competing or comparing yourself to someone else?

Author and analyst Whitney Johnson explained on this week’s All In podcast that as we learn to create, we are not only challenging ourselves and contributing to the world— but we are also becoming like the Creator, our Heavenly Father. By creating and continually evolving, rather than competing with one another, we can spend our time living in abundance.

Additionally, when we focus our efforts on continually creating, we will recognize not only our own strengths, but others' strengths, as well.

“The adversary pushes us to compete all the time. And it's not against ourselves, because that's the contest that's worth competing. …He encourages us to compete against everybody else, versus the Savior, who encourages us to create,” Johnson said.

Read an excerpt from their conversation below or click here to listen to the whole episode. You can also read a full transcript of the podcast here.

The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.

Whitney Johnson: Now, here's what I want to talk about from a spiritual perspective. From a spiritual perspective, if you think about competitive versus market risk, the adversary pushes us to compete all the time. And it's not against ourselves, because that's the contest that's worth competing, is against ourselves. He encourages us to compete against everybody else, versus the Savior, who encourages us to create. So much so that He spends a lot of time in the temple teaching us how to create. And Brooke Snow, who I know you had on the podcast recently, did this wonderful webinar on this power of creating. We know that Elder Uchtdorf said that one of the greatest, deepest yearnings of the human soul is to create, that joy comes through creation. And so, when you think about taking the right risks from a gospel perspective, this is us thinking about what am I going to create? What kind of future will I create? This is God's plan. We have agency. So what can we create? It's not competing. What can we create? And I'll just sum it up with this wonderful quote, which is, "Amateurs compete. Professionals create." And so that's the very first tenet of personal disruptions. You take the right risks and you figure out how to create versus compete.

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Morgan Jones: I was thinking about a statement that you made earlier about how this is not about comparing ourselves to one another, but recognizing our strengths. And I wondered, how do you think that we do that while avoiding pride? Or how do we avoid that trap, that constant trap that's in front of us of comparing ourselves when we're looking for the things that we do better than other people? Does that make sense?


Whitney Johnson: Oh, yeah, that's a great question. Yeah, so I think it's all in the framing and, and recognizing, I mean, if we go back to where they talked about the body, it's this idea of saying, "Okay, I have this hand, and I'm a hand. And I'm really good as a hand at what I do," and acknowledging that there were things that I can contribute because I'm a hand. And then, not as a consequence of this, but we then don't say, "Oh, well, you know, you're a digestive tract. That's not very helpful. That's not very valuable." It's this ability to say, "I have this hand and I can do this. And because of that, I am able to contribute in this very specific and unique way." And I think it goes both ways. I do think that sometimes we think the hand is better than the foot, for example—the digestive tract is too long to say. So we do that. But I think the sometimes a more insidious trap for some of us is that we say to ourselves, "President Nelson is more special than we are. God loves him more than He loves us." And so, the hand is more valuable, and I'm just a foot, or I'm just a toe. But the problem with that is as soon as we do that, if we think he's better or more valuable in God's eyes, then that means that inherently there's someone that we think we are better than. And that is so insidious, because again, it brings us back to this competition and then we stop creating. And so, I think the answer is to say, "I have this thing and I do it so well, and it means that I can contribute. How will I contribute?" And then looking at another person and saying, "What do they do well? What are they magnificent at? And how, because they're magnificent at that, are they able to contribute? And how might I help them contribute?" Because maybe they don't even realize how wonderful the fact is that they have a foot, how valuable that is. And so how can I help them believe that they can contribute? And that we together, the hand and the foot, can contribute to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man and woman.

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Greyson Gurley

A Georgia native, Greyson Gurley is the current editorial intern for LDS Living. She is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English and was a member of the badminton club. Her life goals include actually learning French, saving the environment, and finding the perfect chocolate croissant.

Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com