This is something I continue to struggle with. Yep, after four years of being an entrepreneur, I still have to step back and remember who and where I am. Unfortunately, this is one of the easiest ways to sabotage one’s work.
Comparing yourself to others, in my opinion, is a human handicap. In doing so, we discount our hard work and negatively pressure ourselves to be ‘more’. Not only can it make you quite unhappy, it often comes from a place of dissatisfaction. When I’m most dissatisfied with my business is when I most compare it to others — and quickly become even more dissatisfied. It’s a problematic loop we have all been in.
Why You Should Stop
First of all, your business will always be different from any other venture. That’s because it’s run by YOU. You are made of experiences that no one else has had. It’s what makes you uniquely good at that special thread that runs through your business.
What do I mean by a special thread? Reminds you of Harry Potter’s wand, doesn’t it? What I mean to say is that there is a reason you chose to go into business for yourself. And there is a reason you chose a certain focus area. Even within that focus area, you have a particular approach that no one else has.
Here is a first hand example. My work with women entrepreneurs means a lot to me. It’s pure passion, which means I work fiercely toward the growth of my clients and peers. But I’m not the only “empowerer of women entrepreneurs” ever to grace the Earth. In fact, I take strength from the existence of others. But at low points, I may also compare myself to them.
In particular, Carrie Green. She is leaps and bounds ahead of my work. I sit and puzzle how she gained thousands of followers, garnered immense publicity, and a solid foundation of work. From the outside it’s easy to envy.
But let’s take a step back — I said “she is leaps and bounds ahead of my work”. That’s the key. She has been working with women entrepreneurs since 2011. I didn’t even start my entrepreneurial career until the end of 2012. But the human psyche is build to make comparisons so we understand our pecking order and place in the universe. It’s how we have survived for millennia.
Compare Your Work To … Your Work
While it may seem natural to compare your work to others’ in order to find mistakes or generate new ideas, the only true comparison you should be making is to yourself. As sentient beings, we are constantly changing and evolving. This makes us excellent subjects for comparison.
In fact, this is a critical step in goal setting. The best entrepreneurs are those who reflect on their accomplishments, but also their failures, and learn from both. The only way to do this is to compare yourself to your past self and mark progress.
I do this by using the Passion Planner, which I discussed in my post about goal setting. At the end of each month I’m prompted to look back on what I’ve accomplished, but also on what I see myself repeatedly and unnecessarily doing. By highlighting and putting it into writing, I’m able to take steps toward change — and to celebrate my achievements.
No one else’s work is comparable to yours. It’s important to set goals, but do so within the realm of who you are and what you hope to become. You’ll progress faster than if you try to be someone else.
What’s your comparison story? Share it below.