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As humans, we love to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes this serves us. Sometimes this doesn’t.
It can help us gauge our progress on our desires or goals.
Or, it can prevent us from even getting in the game.
It’s worth paying attention to where our tendencies to compare lead us. And, do something about it.
Episode 56 Show Notes
Episode 56 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 56. The Comparison Game This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to meet your dust? When I was young, I loved to swim. I remember my first swimming lesson was in a parking lot in a grade school in California, and it was right near our home, and it was one of those above ground pools that was put up temporarily and we took a little shower outside of it. And then we walked up some little steps and jumped into the pool. When we moved on to other states and places, I remember being a regular at the community pool, and so by the time I got to seventh grade, I knew quite a few swim strokes and really loved being in the water. And we had a required swim class to take for seven weeks. And in that swim class, the instructor regularly called upon me to demonstrate a stroke, the crawl, the backstroke and pretty much anything except the butterfly. And I never learned the butterfly, and I realized it was just me not thinking I could do it. In eighth grade, my friend Michelle Mahar convinced me to try out for the swim team. She had already tried out and made it, and I hadn’t known about the tryouts. So I tried out on kind of a makeup day where those people that weren’t able to go toothy, normal swim tryouts could come and try out. And I was super nervous, even though I had played in some sports before this and participated quite well in them. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in a junior high sport, right. I had a lot of shyness at that time, and I didn’t seem to be aware of my athletic abilities. I was more aware of my social inadequacies. So I got to try out for the swim team and there is one other guy there with me. We got in the water and we started to swim, and I lost to this guy in the eighth grade, and I had certain thoughts about him at the time, and I wasn’t able to separate my thoughts about who he might be. A za person from his actual swimming capabilities, and I assumed incorrectly that if I had lost to him, I must not be a very good swimmer. And I remember I lost to him by half a lap. Now the pool was not an Olympic size pool by any means that were in. It was a fairly small pool. So let’s say I lost to him by three or four seconds, which could be a long time in the water, right? So fast forward toe later that year, who ends up being in the newspaper repeatedly. But this guy I swam against because apparently he was all state material so super shocked and realizing that I decided not to join the swim team because I lost to one of the fastest people in the state who was, by the way, a guy which in this case matters because I would never be racing against him would be racing against women. And that is on Lee. One example of many I could share where I have spent more time comparing myself and deciding I am better than or worse than or not the same as, or whatever of another person. And it did not serve me well, from that point forward, I never tried to join the swim team up to that point in my life. I really love swimming. I was the person that demonstrated how to swim for the seventh grade swim class just a year before trying out for the team. And yet I made that moment in time means so much, and what I made it mean turned out not to be correct, because based upon the fax, I was still a pretty good swimmer, even though I lost to one of the top swimmers in the state of Michigan. So interesting. Now you may think you don’t compare yourself, but I’m gonna bet you you dio in some part of life we think we’re immune to it at times and then other times were super aware of it. But this trickles down to how we compare ourselves to our neighbors, and it’s school growing up and in college at home, comparing the different people in the home at work. This happens all the time, and as you go about your hobbies and your different interest, this comes about, and it can serve a purpose. If when we compare, we say Hey, I’d like to become that. What is that like? What is that person like? What do they do? How do they behave? How do they interact with people? What are the choices they make? What kind of habits do they have and to strive to be like that? So we’re comparing in a way where were seeking to become, and they are an example of what is possible. But there’s other parts of comparing that do not serve us because we feel or see the cognitive dissonance between where we had, where they are and make that mean that we are less than or incapable or unable to achieve, because they’re such a broad distance between us. I have been taking ah hard look at this in myself lately as I review my past, figure out ways to change for the future and continue seeing and learning from people that have already achieved what I want to achieve. And I got myself into this comparison trap because in some respects I became entitled in my mind and I wasn’t even aware of it, and it kind of went something like this. Well, I’ve been working all these years. I know a lot of stuff. I have a lot of experience. I’ve gone through all the trials and challenges, switching over and entrepreneurship. I should be able to learn a few things and get going super fast because I’ve already got all this experience behind me. And so in a way it’s saying, Hey, I am better than the others who have gone through all this hard work in this particular expertise area. I deserve to be able to step in and reap the rewards. Right now. In fact, I’m delayed. I should already have this. But the other side of the same thought is that I am not enough, right? I I’m not going to be able to do what they’ve done. I am obviously not understanding what needs to be done or I will never get there and look how great they’re already doing. And here I am, still fiddling around with all my stuff and the problem with both of these scenarios where I am not enough or I’m better than or I’m entitled to just walk into this and have it work is that neither of those actually serve the purpose of becoming better from within. None of it helps me actually change and practice this and improve and offer better work, better opportunities, better services and products in support because it’s all focused on comparing to these external standards that I cannot control that are outside of me. And I see this a lot in the workplace as well. We hear such things as I got hired at the same time. If she did and they’re paying her five came or or it’s not fair. I’ve worked here on more projects and they’re just walking in and getting one or two and people are recognizing it. Or can you believe that person? The leadership likes them, but every project they walk on, they mess up. But because they’re nice to leadership, they’re treated well. And so that’s a comparison. Then we’ve got the other things going on like, Well, I’m not going to do that. That’s not at my pay grade or it doesn’t matter if I do it. They’re not gonna like it anyway, or why bother doing it? They’re not gonna notice me or reward me, and I don’t know how to do it, So I’m not even going to try or I don’t know how to do what they’re doing. Everybody likes them more, so I might as well not try. And I’m not as good as they are and will never be. Have you heard thes? I’ve heard every single one of them and a couple of them have been uttered from my mouth over the years. None of thes helps. Doesn’t help you doesn’t help anyone else. And it shows how much we can compare ourselves to others. And we like it or not. Start playing whatever game we’re in, right? You noticed how once you’ve started working somewhere were started living somewhere or participating in a certain group? At first, you might think you’re different. You’re very nuanced and you’re offering distinct value. But over time, depending on what it is you start to take on whatever standard is in the group and compare yourself to that standard, whether it’s a person or thing and lose sight of what’s external. I know this would happen in the government a lot. Once people figured out there’s the certain levels. The goal was to obtain these certain levels, which is G s, 15 or S. E s and S. E s s Senior Executive Service. And that’s something that you know. There’s very special positions for that. Not all organizations have it or have very few other organizations have a ton of people at this level and GS 15 which is the highest that regular, everyday people doing good things can obtain, either by being in the government a long time or actually going up in leadership levels. And, of course, there’s also political point ease, which can range now. They could be like a GS 13 to senior executive as faras pay. But once people into the government under there for a little while. Everything is judged by these levels, and it’s so interesting because when you’re someone that’s not part of that intercept, it sounds like crazy talk. Please sit did to me. I’m like, Why are you so focused on GS 15? Like, aren’t you worried about becoming a better leader or becoming better at managing teams or learning this expertise more And a lot of people say Yeah, but I want to be a GS 15 and so is very clear in the conversations that the most important thing was that level to obtain a certain salary and I can tell you that having been through most of those salary levels, the payoff is less unless the higher you get right, because it cuts off like once you hit like 100 50 K or something like there’s these tiny little raises and it’s all taxed anyway. But that’s a whole different discussion. But the point being that there’s this comparison that goes on in the game you’re in until you enter a different game and to realize once you leave it that Oh wow, I had it pretty great or oh wow, why was I comparing myself to this Set A standards? There’s this whole huge set of possibilities out there, and I was judging myself by this little group of standards. What I think is very interesting is that recently, when I was working through all of these thoughts, I realized that this back and forth between thinking I was entitled to be ahead of where I actually was, and this thinking that I wasn’t actually good enough, put me in this spot where I was not making progress because my thoughts were not directed toward actually doing the right work that would get me the results that I wanted, and I realized that this was my brain’s way of making an excuse for itself. It was gathering evidence that I wasn’t good enough spending a heck of a lot of time doing it. But it wasn’t creating evidence that I would be able to actually succeed if I did the work. And when I was getting coached on this, my coach brought up how it’s kind of like I’m talking myself out of going into the arena, and that really resonated with me because I knew what she was talking about because it was a quote that I loved growing up. And it’s called the man in the arena, and it’s by Theodore Roosevelt, and I know you’ve heard it. I know Burn A. Brown has quoted it because I mean, she takes part of it is a title of her book. But take a listen. It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and Blood, who strives valiantly, who errors, who comes short again and again, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither no victory nor defeat? What is that? That’s the, uh, boom goes the warriors drum, right? Where have I heard that I’ve heard that from some guy How to find that out. But I loved being reminded of that quote because I realized I was building up evidence. Why should not even go into the arena? Of course I’m experience. Of course, of all this, I shouldn’t even have to go into the arena. People should already be paying me because I had all this experience. They should be coming to me and droves at the same time. What was really happening in my mind was, I don’t know if I dare go in the arena. Everything I know will be exposed, and maybe no one will like it. And so what’s so important in thinking about this and getting coached on this is overnight. It changed me because suddenly I was aware of what was going on in my head, how it was not serving me and how it was time to give myself a kick in the pants and go. Rebecca, you know what worked to dio Get doing it. You can do it and keep moving forward. Prepare for the arena, and if you fail a few times, fine, that’s part of the deal. That’s what you sign up for when you decide to branch out and to learn and grow and change and seek to become that next level of self. But in the process, you may get stuck in this comparison game and had to remind yourself that it’s true what Dr Seuss said, right? He says it in his happy birthday to you book today you are you that is truer than true. There was no one alive who is you were than you. You’re not supposed to be anyone else. We don’t need duplicates. You’re supposed to become your best self. If you want to look up to role models, fine. If you want to find out how they got there fine, but go do some of the stuff and keep working and moving forward. Stay in your lane, so to speak and feel lies. But in order to be your than you, you’re going to have to travel into space that you’ve never been in yourself, and that’s okay. That’s part of your journey. And sometimes you will be the expert in the arena, and sometimes you will be that person feeling entitled, and sometimes you’ll be that person that’s feeling less than use all moments to take a look at your mind and see what’s going on. Get some help if you need to from a coach or a friend and keep going. The right people that are tied to your yes will not have access to you unless you do the hard work that gets you into the arena. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your current pay grade. It doesn’t matter if other people make more than you. Right now. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get that promotion right now. If you are consistently creating evidence that you know stuff that you’re improving, that you’re willing to work with people that you’re willing toe learn, that’s a lot better use of your time than gathering evidence as you compare yourself to other people. Keep pressing, prepare for the arena and learn who you are and be it. The world needs you. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at. Move your desk dot com. See you next Monday.