It’s something we all do, compare. It’s a an analytical tool we are taught in school.
We use it when trying to decide which shoes / TV / house to buy. (Or rather, we use our analysis to justify the decision our heart has made, but that’s another blog post).
We also compare ourselves to others: how am I doing compared to my colleagues / competitors / anybody in the world who we think is doing better than us in some way. But as the saying goes, that’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Talking to a client this week about this very topic, I remembered a post I wrote a long time ago but never published: How to stop comparing yourself to others.
This is what I wrote
I signed up to read at a story telling event. I have never done this before and never imagined that I would. I was second to tell my story and was nervously excited. I enjoyed listening to the first story teller and could listen to her for hours. Entertaining, true, with descriptions that really made the story come alive, she is a real Storyteller.
As I listened to her I noticed a whispering in my ear
“Your story ins’t a real story”
“She’s funny in a way that you want to be, but aren’t”
I started to compare myself to her and came up short.
I wanted to enjoy her story and I couldn’t do that while comparing so I told my self to shift my focus to her, to actively listen.
Focused shifted to her, I was able to enjoy her story again. When my turn came up, I shifted my attention to the others in the room; people who were curious to hear my story. It was great to share my story in this way, face to face, and not just through the internet and, having switched off my analytical brain, I enjoyed the experience.
At the back of my mind came a thought
there is value in everything
My story wasn’t the same as anyone else’s yet all our stories had value. Comparing was just muddying the waters.
Another thought crystallised:
I was doing this for me. I wanted to share my story and here was a room full of people prepared to listen.
It’s these collection of thoughts that allowed me to stop comparing and to get up on stage and take my turn.
So what about the 2 easy steps? Well, to put that story into “how to” terms,
- Notice that you are comparing
- Ask yourself this question: how is comparing serving me?
If you get a positive answer, great! Pay attention to how it is serving you and use that to make your life better or to take steps to achieving your goals.
However, if you get this kind of answer:
“it isn’t serving me. I now feel bad about myself and what I have achieved. I’m demotivated”
then go back to basics and ask yourself “what is my goal/purpose here?”
Focusing on you and what you want will bring you back to your motivation, and that’s the best place to be.
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p.s. in case you are wondering what my story was, you can find it here