One of the lessons that we have been taught since grade school is to strive to be the best at whatever we set out to do. We have become obsessed with ranking everything to figure out who is the “best” and as a result, we have gotten into the habit of comparing ourselves to others in almost everything we do. Unfortunately for us, comparing ourselves to others is a huge roadblock in the way of success, and quite honestly, it may be the main reason why you aren’t happy right now.
What if we have misinterpreted the meaning of “best”? Is it possible that this could mean we should strive to be OUR best rather than the best compared to others. I truly believe the key to success lies in running your own race and focusing on being the best you can possibly be, the rest will take care of itself. Does it help to research competition in order to help you formulate a plan to reach your goals? Absolutely it does. But there is a fine line between researching competition and using them as a measuring stick for your success. There are three major flaws that comparing yourself to others carries with it and they may not be the reasons that you would expect.
1. Your Approach is Unique
Our uniqueness in anything we do is one of our greatest strengths. It is often that very uniqueness that can become one of the major reasons we are able to become successful in the first place. Because of the fact that everyone has a unique approach and viewpoint, we are able to see situations differently than anyone else, allowing us to provide our own perspective and strategies that someone else may have missed.
When you compare yourself to others, such as adopting their approach and definition of success, you allow it to cloud your judgment and get in the way of finding a creative solution that you could have come up with yourself. Even if you are doing the exact same job as someone else, your approach is likely to be different based on your personality and your strengths. You are unlikely to do something EXACTLY the way that your peers do. As a result you are comparing two different approaches, which is about as effective as comparing apples to oranges. Not to mention that when you do things your way, it’s a lot more fun.
2. You Won’t Enjoy Your Progress
Comparing yourself to others can also cause you to shift your focus on how much further you have to go, rather than how much progress you have made. For example, if you have worked hard to diet and exercise and you managed to lose 10 lbs, you would consider that an accomplishment wouldn’t you? Not if you compare yourself to someone who is still 10 lbs lighter than you, and in fact you are likely to feel discouraged about how much further you have to go instead of encouraged about how much progress you have made.
Now let’s say there are two people who are the same weight, let’s call them Nicole and Lauren, and they are both dieting and exercising in order to get healthier. Nicole is comparing herself to someone who is 20 lbs lighter than her and Lauren is simply focusing on doing her best. As a result after each of them lose 10 lbs, Nicole feels discouraged that she has another 10 lbs to go, while Lauren is excited about the progress she has made. Who do you think is more likely to succeed at getting that extra 10 lbs off, the person who is discouraged or the person who is encouraged? It’s a no brainer. Not only will Lauren, the person who is encouraged be more likely to succeed, but she will also enjoy herself much more in the process, and take much more pride in her accomplishment.
3. You Will Sell Yourself Short
Finally and most importantly, when you compare yourself to others you will sell yourself short. If your goal is to be the top earner in your company or the best teacher in your school district, you may reach certain levels of success, but by comparing yourself to others and just settling for being better than your competition, you create a ceiling for your own success. In other words, you aren’t striving to give maximum effort; you are striving to give enough effort to be better than your competition.
What often happens is that someone reaches their goal of surpassing their competition, simply becoming satisfied with where they are rather than continuing to improve every day. What might be more productive instead is setting goals to become the best that you can possibly be, and continuing to improve each and every day. What if your potential is greater than just being the top earner in your company? What if instead of settling for being the best teacher in your school district you constantly push yourself to improve and change the lives of all of the children that you teach in the process?
The person who strives to get a little better each day will reach heights that those who compare themselves to others can’t even imagine.
Compare Yourself to You
To sum it all up, when you compare yourself to others you run the risk of losing your unique edge, feeling discouraged, and selling yourself short of what you’re really capable of. Blazing your own path cannot only lead to more success, but it can also be much more fulfilling and allow you to have a lot more fun in the process. From now on when you recognize that you are comparing yourself to someone else, acknowledge it, and then come to a more productive solution like comparing yourself to the best that you can possibly be.