‘Sarah’s got a great job, look how well she has done for herself’
‘Sanjay is so smart. I wish I’d applied myself to my studies like he has’
‘Sandy has done really well for herself – just look at that great house and exotic holidays she goes on’
‘Marco and Tina have the perfect family life. I’m so jealous’
‘Brian’s so ballsy. Just look at how he reinvented himself and started that business of his’
‘Emma is so damn organised. I wish had the kind of work-life balance she’s achieved’
Comparing yourself to others is drilled into us from childhood and school. But it’s completely misplaced and irrelevant when most of us get into adulthood and are in charge of managing our careers.
Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Everyone has different objectives
We all have a different definition of success based on our own needs and outlook. We consequently have different objectives and priorities.
So it’s futile comparing your results to those of people who have probably had different priorities and focussed on different areas to yourself.
2. No one is doing quite as well as you think they are
Most people put their best foot forward and so we only ever see the best of them in public.
But when you get closer to people and get to know the real person, you realise that Emma isn’t as organised as she seems – she’s constantly stressed and actually feels she has no work-life balance whatsoever.
That Brian may seem to be doing well, but has huge cashflow issues which means he struggles to sleep at night.
That Sanjay may seem smart, but his poor people skills constantly stop him progressing his career and personal life.
That Sandy isn’t doing as well as you think. She’s just racking up lots of credit card debt.
That Marco and Tina haven’t really got the perfect life because Marco’s having an affair with a colleague and Tina is addicted to prescription drugs.
And whilst Sarah’s job may look great from a distance, she hates it. She wants to change careers – but doesn’t know what and doesn’t know how. She’s just stuck on the treadmill whilst trying to look like she’s enjoying it.
Get the picture?
Everyone has problems – they’re just different ones to yours. So by comparing your true self (with all your shortcomings and insecurities) to the best version of others - you’re making false assumptions about yourself and how you’re doing.
And in doing so, you damage your confidence and ability to realise your potential.
3. You’re only competing with yourself
If you’ve ever run a marathon, a 10km race or even taken part in a charity walk, you’ll know that the only person you’re ever competing against is YOU.
You’re competing against your personal best time (i.e. looking to improve) and competing against your true potential. And that is exactly what you should be doing in your career:
a) Judge yourself against past performance (i.e. are you improving and growing?)
b) Judge how well your career and life stack up to your true potential (i.e. how well are you doing at being the real you? Your authentic self?)
Comparing yourself to others is a mug’s game.
It inflates your view of the outside world and the achievements of others, stops you looking to improve yourself and damages your self esteem.
Don’t do it.