Comparison is an ugly little beast.
There’s a lot of time and energy wasted, pondering what someone else is doing. What her website looks like. What type of program she’s launching. What blog topics she writes about.
And, I’m learning that there’s only one type of comparison that I want to take part in.
I’ve done some reflecting and realize that all of the bad type of comparison makes me:
- Feel like I’m not doing good enough
- Feel like I’m behind
- Like I have a long way to go before I’m successful
- Change how I’m doing something
Does that sound familiar?
Four years ago, I gave a presentation at an educational conference. I stood in front of the crowd: legs trembling, sweat pouring down my forehead, and my heart pounding. I was a mess.
To make matters worse, I began to compare myself to my peers. I felt they delivered their presentations flawlessly.
Today, as I reflect on that training, I’ve thought about the lesson I’ve learned and I’m reminded that:
“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” ~Miles Davis
You become your best self when you forget the fear, forget the comparison, and just play. Playing like yourself means:
- consistently putting in the work
- being better today than yesterday
- constantly learning and improving
- putting your work out there into the world with excitement and joy
It means comparing yourself to yourself. (Can I get an amen?)
Recently, I spoke at that same conference. It’s my fourth year in a row. Oh, how times have changed! This time, I stood in front of the crowd: confident, making jokes, and delivering a presentation that people enjoyed.
Instead of comparing yourself to others — to your online competition or to your peers. You should compare yourself to yourself.
Reflect on how far you’ve come along on this journey. Maybe this year you have a banging website when last year you didn’t even know what a plugin was!
Perhaps, you’ve outlined your course and months ago you were overwhelmed with where to start.
Four years ago, I could barely form a coherent sentence, and now I’m rockin’ it out in front of groups.
When I see how far I’ve come, I get excited and motivated. That’s the kind of comparison I want to take part in. The kind that propels me to be better.
Ask yourself: Where were you last year? Three years ago? Ten years ago? And, how are you different today?
That kind of comparison makes you feel good. It motivates you to continue to do awesome work. It makes you excited for the future.
You’re on a journey where there is no finish line. No first place.
It’s a journey where you can leave everyone else out of the equation.
When you leave everyone else out of the equation, you are stripped down to your very essence. You are dancing in your own thoughts and creativity. You are your own cheerleader. You have room to be unique.
I was not at all where I wanted to be four years ago as a presenter at that conference. But, I still got up and did my thing. I continued speaking. I joined Toastmasters. I kept taking small steps forward.
Sometimes it takes a long time doing something in order to play like yourself and each iteration will be an improvement on the last.
So, my point is to encourage you to take up that one form of comparison. The good kind. It’s to encourage you to start. To start playing. To let go of the imperfection because as time progresses, your ideas evolve into beautiful things. You change, you develop, you learn what you love and don’t love, you think of ways to improve.
And, that is the definition of success.
So it’s over to you, think back. Tell us where you were three years ago and how you’re different today.