Are you dooming yourself by playing the comparison game?
The noun “compare” derives from the Latin roots com, meaning “with,” and pare, meaning “equal.” This would lead you to believe that comparing two people (or activities or achievements) involves looking at equals.
The reality of comparisons is that, almost inevitably, someone or something comes up short: She’s stronger. He’s more handsome. That company’s more successful.
Comparison as a way of judging your success is an exercise in crazy-making.
- If you’re disappointed because you’ve underperformed compared to someone else, you may be tempted to beat up on yourself, and this undermines your confidence and willingness to try again.
- If you’re feeling smug because you’ve come up on top in the comparison, you’re using external references as a yardstick for what’s praiseworthy; any time you turn to externals rather than your own inner voice for approval, you’re giving away your personal power.
- Whether you’re too bummed to keep plugging or so self-satisfied you rest on your current laurels, comparisons often will stop your progress dead in its tracks.
However, if you can compare your results to another’s from a place of emotional neutrality and lack of judgment, a comparison can serve you well. How so? Because when you’re not trying to prove anything (e.g., “I’m better than she is”), it’s easier to see where both you and the other person got good results. This, in turn, enables you to learn from another’s success and incorporate their smart activities into your own effective work. You don’t let a fragile ego tempt you into ignoring or downplaying their results. Instead, your confidence in your own abilities allows you to learn from others.
What’s been your experience playing the comparison game? Have you had any long-term positive results as a result of doing so? Or have you done your best to walk away from comparisons?
(BTW, thanks to DonkeyHotey for posting the unbalanced scales in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in focus, productivity and tagged confidence, effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.