A blog about leadership and confidence.

by Lisa Hinz     •      Leadership Development

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Comparing Yourself to Others

Your Trail Only

We live in a super comparative world.


Social media has certainly played its role in allowing us to see the ultimate lives that people outwardly project.  In the comfort of our own homes, we sit behind our computer screens or phones and check out what everyone is doing, wondering why everyone else seems to be achieving and living their perfect life while we feel like we’re constantly 10 steps behind.


We also live in an instant-gratification world.


When we want something “right now,” we can typically get it. And it’s gotten to the point where instant gratification isn’t soon enough. It’s like spending $200 on groceries and then driving through a fast-food joint on your way home because you don’t feel like taking the time to make anything.


While the comparative and instant-gratification world can be entertaining, informative, and convenient, it can also wreak some havoc on your mental state of being.


To help keep things in perspective, a great piece of advice that I received is:  Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.


Whether you’re at the beginning of something or you’ve been at it for a while, don’t let comparing yourself to someone else put you into a downward spiral that tells you, “Wow, I should be farther along than I am by now,” or “Why am I not as successful, what am I doing wrong?” or “Why didn’t they pick me instead?”


You may not know the full history or path of the person you’re comparing yourself to.  Your upbringing was different, your experiences are different, the decisions you’ve made are different. You had different teachers, different internships. Maybe that person has been at it longer than you realize. Maybe they started their journey years before you did.


I’m throwing you a reality check - you are not that person. Nor is that person you.


You don’t need to feel dampered by someone else’s success. By seeing someone else succeed, you have proof that the possibility even exists. That’s a good thing.


The number of opportunities for greatness in the world are not finite. Because one person appears to be living your ultimate dream doesn’t mean there is one less spot available for you. There are unlimited opportunities. Any spot you want to put your name on is ultimately available to you.


You are meant to blaze a trail that is marked only for you. The trailhead you started on has your name on it – no one else’s.  That trail was custom designed carefully and specifically for you.


Another reality check - when you have a trail with your name on it, it’s probably not going to be an easy beginner’s hike.


It’s going to have ridge lines, cliffs, switchbacks, streams, cold temperatures, hot temperatures, and a variety of wildlife, some of which simply watch you walk by and others that follow you from a short distance, creating a bit of stress and paranoia.


You may get on a stretch where the trail seems flat and endless, with no destination in sight. In the distance, you can see many others on their journeys. You wonder about those who appear to be so much farther ahead of you. You wish you were as far along as they are. Your mind starts to crave what you don’t yet have. It continues to crave until the rumination almost becomes deafening.


What you don’t realize is that some switchbacks are coming up. And the scenery is about to become spectacular – unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The terrain has been slowly changing, but you didn’t notice. You didn’t notice because you were too busy watching everyone else - too busy comparing yourself to the others who were way out ahead of you.  You weren’t keeping your eyes on your own beautifully unpredictable path.


Some of the switchbacks you encounter can be narrow and dangerous, needing your extreme focus. If your eyes aren’t on the path in front of you, what might happen? You could slip and fall and end up taking longer to get to where you want to go. Or you might take a wrong turn or miss the panoramic views that were meant to inspire and motivate.


I’m as guilty as anyone else. My eyes have ventured off my trail and I see what others in my space are doing.  I realize that they’ve been doing it much longer than I have.  Because of our instant gratification world, I want to be where they are. I don’t want it to take 10 years.


But then I take a moment to center myself and look objectively at the whole landscape.  What I realize is that instead of pining for what others have, I need to appreciate what they’ve accomplished so that I can learn from them. Those ahead of me on their own trails might have scared off a mountain lion that could have been lurking in the shadows waiting for me.


There are many people out there who are willing to share what they learned through their failures so that I don’t have to make the exact same mistakes. Instead, I can make different mistakes and learn even more from those, which will propel me to even greater heights. I can learn and create a version of success that is true to my own personal values and to who I authentically am.


Life offers amazing opportunities. We just have to allow ourselves to see them. We have to pay attention to our own trail.


I recently had an opportunity pop up out of nowhere. It was a switchback I didn’t know was coming because my eyes were focused elsewhere. It’s in the realm of an area I have wanted to get involved with for some time and have admired others who have been doing it.  I had been comparing my beginning to other people’s middles. And then suddenly, someone I have never met reached out to me, to pull me into this realm. It was completely unexpected.  I realized that if this had come up sooner, if I had been given instant gratification back when I originally wished it, I may not have felt as ready as I do now.


Our trail has a way of leading us to the right places at the right time. Had I taken a shortcut, it may have led me down a path that wasn’t intended for me and I would have missed out on the beauty and opportunity that my trail had to offer.


You. In your time. In your way. On your own trail. Stop every so often to marvel in the beauty of it. It’s yours and yours only. It doesn’t get much better than that.


#theconfidencetrack, #comparingtoothers, #confidence, #roadtosuccess

Lisa Hinz Writing

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