Have you ever found yourself thinking “if only I had what they had” or ” I wish I could xxx like they do”
It’s the kind of thought that has the power to magnify your own shortcomings while at the same time, shrinking your skills, strengths and achievements!
The kind of thought that has the potential to destroy your plans to progress as you wrestle with the beast that is your own inner critic who is always on hand with a put down along the lines of “Who do you think you are to do X Y Z”.
It’s the kind of thought that turns a good day into a bad one..and in more severe cases, this can stretch across weeks or months …putting paid to any hopes of success that your more optimistic self may have been secretly harbouring for the future!
I know I have found myself in that boat more than once and it’s not a comfortable place to be, particularly when your goals are work-related and you’re striving to be the best you can be in leadership, business or both!
So who is to blame for the comparisonitis epidemic currently sweeping across offices across the globe?
Or is it the pressure of social media which accentuates all the fantastic things that are happening in others’ lives while seemingly lacking in our own?
What if the answer lies a little closer to home?
What if the problem lay in our reaction to what’s around us and the level of attention we pay to what we perceive to be “better” or “great”?
I honestly believe that in order to successfully break the cycle of comparisonitis and the toxicity it brings, we need to seriously consider how we manage our own thoughts and understand the influences that are taking us from “Oh that’s cool” to “I’m never going to be good enough!”
But before we get into how to break the cycle of negative thoughts, let’s consider the toxicity they cause and acknowledge what happens when we live a life of comparison – when we:
- Neglect to see our own skills/strengths/talents
- Diminish our own accomplishments
- Take on tasks in the belief that someone else could do them better, with more ease thereby sealing our fate with a stamp of mediocrity.
- Never feel like we are good enough
- Allow it to spread to all aspects of our lives – personal and professional, thereby eroding our self confidence bit by bit, taking its toll on our relationships both in the office and at home!
The net result of all of these things is that we will never reach our own potential. We will never succeed in what we seek to achieve or worst still, we will set mediocre goals because we don’t even dare to dream about reaching the bigger ones. The gross result of this (continuing with the tax metaphors!) is that we will create the greatest travesty of all –
A life unlived!
The truth is this…feeling like you’re existing in someone else’s shadow, like you’re not good enough, never really serves us well.
As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer and in those times when your greatest enemy is living between your two ears, it’s time to haul the sails in and regroup to a positive plan of action!
Remember that no matter what, you have a choice. You get to choose how to manage your thoughts and a key factor here is to recognise and acknowledge what influences your thoughts in a negative way and take action to counteract that influence:
If social media is becoming an addictive irritation, set a boundary and if you have to, cut it out altogether until you have the mindset to manage it in a more positive way.
If your mother is continually comparing you to Mary down the road, have the conversation about how that makes you feel and what you’d like to see happen instead…a focus and acknowledgement of your own achievements might do your mother the world of good too!
If you find yourself reverting to the “childhood pecking order” with siblings ruling the roost…maybe it’s time to address that now that you are all adults?
If your boss is driving an unhealthy competitive culture … speak up and talk through the kind of culture that would help you and your colleagues to thrive!
These are all actions you can take with others but the most important work has to happen inside of you;
Changing your Mindset
Your mindset is a powerful thing and when you create the space for yourself to see things from a more constructive, positive perspective, the results can be life-changing.
Rather than comparing and being envious of other people’s lives (and in the process, demonstrating a lack of gratitude for our own), commit to being inspired by them.
Now don’t get me wrong… this isn’t about about copying others or trying to live their life or clone them and their way of doing things.
Instead, it is about using the inspiration around us to help us to become even clearer, and more in tune with our own vision of how we want to show up – be that in life, in leadership or in business. Sometimes, we have to see something in action before we believe that it’s possible.
So next time you find yourself in comparison mode:
1) Remind yourself about the good things – your talents, skills, achievements to date. A splash of gratitude makes everything better.
2) What do I like about what they do & how they do it. How does that align with my values, my purpose and how I want to show up?
3) How could I use this as inspiration to improve how I work/reach my own goals?
Rather than being burdened by the perceived greatness of others, we can use it a as motivator rather than a ball and chain that keeps us from achieving our own potential.
Say no to comparison, say YES to INSPIRATION!
Your future potential is counting on it!