We award comparison with a disproportionate amount of mental real estate. It’s this cruel joke we play on ourselves, measuring our successes against other people who are doing things that have little or nothing to do with what we’re uniquely suited for. As if one person’s documentary was equal to another person’s highlight reel.
I remember when I used to read positive press about someone in my field doing amazing work. My heart always ended up in conflict with itself. Because part of me wanted to be happy for them, but deep down, I just wanted to make a list all the reasons why it should have been me. After all, I was much more talented and hardworking and deserved success way more than they did. Screw those people.
Thankfully, a friend of mine reminded me that success doesn’t have a line. There’s no universal justice system. We can bang our heads against the wall, resenting other people’s success, wondering why them and not us, all day long.
But in the end, success is mostly luck. It’s about being the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the right product, in front of the right audience, with the right leverage.
Comparison, then, is a futile game with no winners. As the theory of egonomics states, the more uncertain about who we are or what we have, the more automatic and persistent our comparisons become.
And so, a healthier response would be to replace all of the comparing with creating. Instead of resentfully downgrading people’s accomplishments to justify their level of success, we can use their lives as a glowing source of inspiration for our own work.
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Will you back away in bitterness or leap forward into creativity?
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