“There’s a down side to using others as a bench mark for your personal worth and career success.” – anonymous
There was a moment during the 2016 Olympics swimming competition when a photographer captured one of Michael Phelps’ competitors watching him while they are both racing. Phelps is focused on the goal ahead, not paying any attention to others around him. While his competitor is swimming, he keeps an eye on his competitor which makes him lag behind and, in the end, lose the race.
This moment is a great reminder especially for business owners. As we watch other people and their businesses, we may compare our level of progress based on what they’re doing or even change our strategy based on how we perceive their success. This is when our progress slows down and distracts us from our main goal.
Comparing yourself to others is something that is natural and happens from time to time. We are somehow gauging our success based on someone else’s “accurate” view of what should be happening on our journey. It’s tempting to change course when you see someone else “winning.”
In a world where social media brings you front and center to everyone who appears to be winning in life (business or career), it doesn’t showcase the real challenges. It’s so easy to look at yourself and wonder how you measure up. There are many avenues towards success and understanding your strengths, knowing your vision, your goals and values. These are the keys to remaining on the path specifically outlined for you.
You have your own road to success and your own path to follow in business. There’s nothing wrong with changing course when you see something isn’t working for you; but make sure you’re doing it for reasons aligned with your needs and not because something shiny and new flashed your way.
Here are a few tips to help you stop comparing yourself to others and take off in your business:
- Limit Your Time on Social Media
On social media people tend to present their best selves. You get the painted masterpiece but don’t see the many challenges/struggles that created such a masterpiece. Steve Furick makes a powerful statement: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” And it’s true. Filters are added to photos to present a certain image and to create a pretty picture. Liberate yourself by limiting your time on social media and increase your time and focus on the areas that will help your business grow.
- Give Yourself Some Credit and Focus on Your Areas of Success
We sometimes breeze through our accomplishments and minimize our wins. We habitually focus on what we didn’t do, using criticism to carve away the best pieces of ourselves. Take a look back at your “to do” list and see what you accomplished during the week. Reflect on where your business was last year around this time or even a few months ago. See how things have progressed. Not only look at the tangible things as a gauge for growth and success (making more money, having more clients or partnerships), but also at the growth from within yourself. How has taking leaps and moving outside of your comfort zone changed your mindset, your ability to adapt or increased your confidence? How much better would you channel your energy if you focused on your growth (even when you mess up, because we’re not perfect) and stopped fanning the “I’m not enough” flames in your life? Be kinder to yourself and accept your own humanity. Trust that you’re moving ahead at the pace that works best for you.
- Understand Your Unique Strengths
Isn’t it wonderful that you were designed with your own set of skills that contribute greatly to this world? Use these things as leverage in business. What sets you apart? What have people said about your work and your interactions? In a sea of business owners, who are in the same line of work as you? Look at what makes you different – what is your story? What is your “why?” People who hear that will be drawn to you. Your abilities will connect you to people who are truly interested in your work. Focus on what you do best and the unique talents you bring to your piece of the world.
When you define what success truly looks like for your business and overall life, you’ll begin to spend more time concentrating on that. You will no longer look at people or businesses in “pretty” pictures, using them as barometers for whether you’re on target. You will be able to reflect on your main goals, what you value and how you’ll continue to “stay the course.”