I had the opportunity to connect with someone whose work I admire — a real fan girl moment! In a past life I may have felt a little comparisonitis creeping in but knowing what I know now, I took the opportunity to study and learn.
In the age of social media, comparing ourselves to others has never been easier. All we need to do is log onto #LinkedIn and see what our friends and former colleagues are up to, how their careers are progressing and we can compare them with our own achievements. Are we as successful? Is our career on the same trajectory? Are we attending the same conferences? Have we achieved similar qualifications? To add further pain, if the answer is ‘NO’ to every single question, we self interrogate trying to find out why is the answer ‘no’?
This kind of comparison can be the proverbial double edged sword — on one side it can be a motivator for us to do better or it can have detrimental effects in that we can be enveloped in a wave of self-doubt that makes us want to erase our profile. After all, if we’re not as good enough as everyone else, why should you bother?
You see that promotion, but you stop yourself. You tell yourself that you don’t stand a chance of getting it, worst of all you compare yourself to someone else.
In truth, those comparisons are a big part of the reason why some of us struggle with stepping into #leadership. How do I know? Because I was guilty of falling into the same trap when I was offered my first senior role.
What messes with our confidence, is the picture in our head of how we are supposed to look, say or act. As women, we are constantly comparing ourselves to some crazy standards, whether its beauty, weight, hair or career. But no matter the comparison, remember we’re in a better position than some. We forget we are unique, there are no carbon copies and if we want to succeed, we have to do so as ourselves — and we’re capable of it!
Here are 10 ways to check your thinking and focus on your chosen path:
- Acknowledge that you have choices — the act of comparison prevents you from accepting the fact that you have choices. You can focus on the negative or you can identify the positives that work best for you. Focus your energies on your own situation, your strengths, your goals and you’ll get where you’re going.
- Focus on your own progress — measure where you are now compared to last week, last month or last year and appreciate the progress you’ve made. If it seems that you’re stagnating and you can’t see progress on your goals, chances are your goals aren’t clearly defined. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with you or anything to do with anyone else. Measure you against you and hold yourself accountable for that — nothing more or less.
- Recognize your limitations — when we compare ourselves, we tend to focus on our deficiencies, the things we feel we’re not good at. That time spent wishing we were better is better spent recognizing our limitations, but don’t allow them to limit you — set your own rules.
- Embrace what makes you different — making those comparisons leaves little room for the things that make you unique — your gifts, your differences etc. Your talents, abilities, successes and contributions are what makes you special, so don’t discount them.
- Learn from those more experienced — if there’s a realization that you don’t know as much as you think you should, the solution is simple. Just like I pointed out, learn from those who do know so you can elevate your knowledge. Another person’s success does not equate to you being deficient — use it as a guide for your personal development.
- Your time is precious time — guard it wisely! Spending time comparing yourself or your accomplishments to someone else is not the best use of a valuable resource.
- Celebrate your wins — no matter how small. Remember every accomplishment is recognition of how you’ve raised your bar. Celebrate those wins and you’ll be far too busy to compare yourself to anyone else.
- Focus on the controllables — those things you can change yourself. So much of what we compare ourselves to is out of our control, but the one thing that we can control is the need to compare ourselves or where we focus our energies
- Comparisons breed resentment. The more you compare yourself to others, the more resentment you’re likely to feel — and it’s all the more painful because it’s a self-inflicted wound.
- Success is relative — whilst you’re busy watching everyone else’s success, someone is watching yours! Success is all down to your outlook.
Just leave other people out of the comparisons and you’ll do fine, success begins the moment you stop looking over your shoulder and focus on yourself.
Janice Sutherland is an award winning women’s leadership expert and founder of This Woman Can an online community for professional women. She provides coaching and training specializing in helping women and organizations build leadership skills through Executive Mentorship, Leadership Training and Executive Team Facilitation for both corporate executives and entrepreneurs globally. She is a sought after keynote presenter for corporate and nonprofit environments and speaks on issues relating to leadership, women’s advancement, professional success and work/life alignment. For more details, visit www.janicesutherland.com