The comparison trap is a killer. Have you ever found yourself looking at, comparing yourself with and/or envying something about another person? I have, often and for much of my life. I wished I was a more talented footballer and would often watch other more skillful players with envy. I would look at people who seemed happier, fitter, more popular, more outgoing and more successful and I would wonder what was wrong with me. Have you ever done that? If you have, let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with you, or me. When you focus on what you have, and not what you don’t have, everything will change, in a great way.
There are two main challenges when you play the comparison game, and these will paralyse you and keep you miserably stuck in your life. I am assuming you don’t want to be miserable or stuck, so it may be time to turn your eyes back onto yourself. The first challenge with comparing to others is that it requires that you move your focus to something that is out of your control. This automatically leads to fear, anxiety, discouragement and insecurity. The second challenge is that you can never win the comparison game, because, if you keep looking, you will always find someone better than you are, in some way. So, if you want to be discouraged, anxious, insecure and stuck, then keep comparing yourself to others, but if you want to achieve amazing things, then just focus on what you have and what you can do.
Australian 1500m swimming legend, Kieren Perkins, ironically, was not a great swimmer when he started on his journey. In fact, the only reason he started swimming in the first place was because, whilst spending lots of time at the local pool, as a child, rehabilitating a leg injury, he watched the swimming squad and decided he wanted to be a part of it. When he started with the squad, his coach was very clever, and knowing that Kieren was not a great swimmer at that time, just encouraged personal improvement. He taught him never to look sideways or compare himself with other swimmers, but just focus on what he had and how he could improve with each swim. This mindset and approach led Kieren on to three consecutive Olympic Games where he won two gold and one silver medal in the 1500m.
In my podcast this week called, ‘You’re here now, what are you going to do,’ I talk with the amazing Deborah Stathis. I was so inspired by her willingness, despite her horrendous circumstances to focus on what she did have and what she could do. Just a few weeks after a devastating car accident which left her with serious facial, head and brain injuries, and, being told she would never function normally again, it would have been very easy for Deborah to fall into the comparison trap. She could have spent her time in a victim-mindset, focusing on all of the people who didn’t have horrendous facial and brain injuries, but that would have just sent her spiralling into a very bad place.
Instead, Deborah faced herself in the mirror and said, ‘okay, you’re here now, what are you going to do,’ She looked at what she had, and that was, a vision for a better life, the possibility of rebuilding her face and her life, inner strength and determination. She thought about what she could do to make that happen, and then off she went with what she refers to as a ‘relentless pursuit’ towards creating her best life. Let me tell you, this is a podcast worth listening to and her book, Beyond Trauma, will help you start focusing on what you have and what you can achieve.
I have said it before and I will say it again, you are good enough right now. Whatever you are currently working towards, stay focused on what you have and what you can do. Looking sideways is the fastest way to discouragement and regret that I know. Yes, there are people healthier than you. So what? Yes, there are people more talented than you. Who cares? Yes, there are people more successful, in certain areas, than you. Big deal, go and create your own success! Where you are is where you are. It’s the starting point, and it’s okay. Focus on what you want, be clear on what you have, start working on what you can improve and keep going with a ‘relentless pursuit.’ I promise you, if you focus on what you have, you will find enough for you to go on to achieve everything you want, and more.