Someone said to me recently, "It's better to be a big fish in a small pond." Of course, that would not be the right situation for all artists, as some people thrive from the competition in a crowded shark pool. I haven't always wanted to admit it, but I DO like being the big fish. I'd rather have my work reach a small group to whom it is significant, than see it bounce off the over-saturated cynics of a big-market crowd. Freedom from the worry of competing allows me to open my heart a bit more and to take bigger leaps. If I believe the work is meaningful to my compatriots, I feel willing to invest more of myself.
When I was researching theatre companies for my thesis on collaborative creation, I found companies with a range of attitudes regarding cooperativeness within their workspaces. One company's founder described a willingness to forget about being nice and to have their artists (figuratively) duke it out in the rehearsal room for the best idea, while another company sought consensus both in meetings and in the creation of their work. It is useful to recognize where along that spectrum you feel most comfortable as an artist. I know that I like to work with a harmonious group, while still maintaining some directorial authority. Disagreement and challenging views are important, but can be offered with respectful intent to push the work to a level of higher integrity.
The work is important, but even more important are people.