What-is & Wanted vs. Unwanted: comparison

Everyone says, “Don’t compare yourself to others.”

Some say it’s a waste of time and energy—something about keeping up with the Joneses. Or bad for your self-esteem and confidence. Some say avoid comparison because while the grass over there may look greener, it may just be a nice green facade.

But, I think it’s OK to compare yourself to others.

I do it all the time. What’s more, I encourage my friends and clients to do it.

To compare simply means to examine the character or qualities of something, especially in order to discover resemblances or differences. That sounds fairly benign, doesn’t it?

Comparing yourself to others can be tremendously useful and encouraging if you go about it the right way. Here are my three simple rules of comparing:

  • Brainstorm: Use points of comparison to generate ideas about what might account for a gap
  • Focus: Pay attention to what’s within your control
  • Gentleness and gratitude: Don’t beat yourself up and practice an attitude of gratitude

For example, let’s say you’re a sales professional and your numbers aren’t as high as you’d like them to be—and not at the level of others in your company. You miss a valuable opportunity if you address this issue in a vacuum—looking only at what you’re doing.

Brainstorm

While looking at your own statistics is a place to start, it’s also beneficial to ask, “What are others with higher numbers doing differently? What can I emulate? What habits can I adopt as my own? What habits do I need to prune?”

By using points of comparison as a trigger to brainstorm, you can discover key differences in attitudes and beliefs, behaviors and daily disciplines, time management and focus, learnable skills and gainable experience, etc. that can potentially help you close the gap.

Focus

Focus on things within your control. For instance, in the past you might have compared yourself and said, “Well, Bob’s numbers are higher because he has a better territory.”

Forget all that. Focus on what you can control. Focusing on what’s within your control makes it easier to see Bob makes 10 more cold calls a week than you do, does more active listening during sales calls, and regularly reads books about sales strategies to hone his skillset, which you don’t.

Gentleness and gratitude

Don’t be hard on yourself when a comparison yields a gap between you and someone else. Instead, brainstorm to discover ways for you to make constructive changes. At the same time, it’s important to recognize your achievements and be grateful for all that is working in your life.

Remember: Undoubtedly someone else is looking at you and making comparisons too!

We’re all unique individuals with different talents, skills, strengths and abilities. But why recreate the wheel when sometimes a little comparison can help you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be?

What do you think? Is a little healthy comparison OK?

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