We’ve all done it. Perhaps you’re sitting in a meeting and someone else makes a comment that gains instant agreement from the group. Or maybe you work really hard on a big project and receive lackluster feedback from your boss and know that a co-worker would receive the MVP award. The specifics are endless, but the result is the same.
I’m talking about that kick to the stomach (not to mention your self-confidence) that comes when you compare yourself to others. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And I can’t speak for you, but truer words have never been spoken for me.
But is comparing yourself to someone else ok, when it actually boosts your confidence? I’m talking about those situations when you see a colleague or friend do something stupid and haughtily think to yourself, “I would have never done that.” And instantly you feel superior! While it may give you the energy of a 3rd quarter rally, chances are the sweet smell of victory will be short-lived.
You see while one of these scenarios can make you feel like a winner and the other a loser, ultimately, neither are healthy for you. And while admittedly it’s a sport played by many, chances are good that you will find far more enjoyment (and maybe even success) in life if you can call “time out” on the compare game of life.
Realizing that old habits die hard, check out a few of my favorite offensive moves below:
- Call Time Out. Ultimately, comparing yourself to others puts the focus in the wrong place. Quite simply, your life is YOURS…not anyone else’s. You get one shot to find the joy and success that is yours to grab. And spending time wishing you were more like “Joe” or “Sally” can easily waste your time, energy and enthusiasm for life. When you find yourself engaging in these sorts of activities, call a time out and focus on you!
- Change the Opponent. If you feel like comparing yourself to others pushes you towards continual growth, then by all means continue. But try making a slight change. Instead of comparing yourself to others, try comparing yourself….to yourself! I know it’s a novel concept but one that will provide far more energy and positive results. Look, you know what traits are important to you, so figure out a tangible plan of how you can begin to emulate those behaviors. And then give yourself a fighting chance for success. Perhaps you need to take some training or even find a mentor. Heck, it’s even possible the person you are envious of could be a great mentor. For more on mentoring, check out, “Six things to consider when choosing your Mentor” and "40 Questions to get the most from your Mentor.”
- The Clock is Ticking. If you’re a time junkie, this one should be easy for you. The proverbial clock is ticking and every second you spend comparing yourself to someone else, is gone...forever! And while I don't want to appear fatalistic, you will simply never get back the 86,400 seconds of today. Do you really want to waste even the tiniest bit of that time in activity that is completely non-productive..not to mention depressing?!? The next time you find yourself in warm up mode for the compare game, call a time out! And make an intentional decision to change your strategy.
- Become your own Fan! Self-Esteem is an attribute that is critical in both your personal and professional life. While it’s great to appreciate the strengths that others have, cut yourself some slack and also be proud of your abilities and accomplishments. You see the trouble with the compare game is that it’s often one-sided. Chances are you are quick to recognize the traits you appreciate in others, but rarely look in the mirror and share some of the same praise with yourself! So the next time you find yourself envious of a colleague, become your own raving fan and identify something you like about yourself. Much like an athlete has to practice a new skill, this one will take time but ultimately the results will make you a winner!
- Perfection….Really?!? Even professional athletes who earn millions of dollars for their abilities don’t claim perfection. And instead hire (and fire!) coaches to help them improve their results. Yet we often feel that guy in the office is perfect. The reality is that none of us are perfect. While someone may be great at organization, perhaps they are a horrible communicator. But because you aren’t looking at the totality of their abilities, it’s easy to believe they are superior to you. Shift your mindset from one of jealousy to one of appreciation. In other words, compete less and work to find appreciation for everyone’s unique strengths (including your own!)
I’d love to hear from you….who do you compare yourself to?