While at a coffee meet-up with local women business leaders, we were discussing the top challenges that keep us from achieving our highest career and business potential. We all agreed on a common roadblock – comparison. It’s easy to compare ourselves to what somebody else is doing, thinking they have it figured out or that their success means a closed door for us.
Even when I was in corporate America, long before social media was abundant, I found myself following a few women leaders that I admired, but I often used them as a yardstick or source of comparison. They offered me much inspiration, yet I tended feel discouraged when they earned promotions, were chosen for projects, or appeared to be heading down a career path I desired. Self-doubt crept in. I wondered if there would be opportunities left for me if they were already there achieving them? Maybe I wasn’t good enough for that career path?
It’s a sneaky trick of the ego that keeps us busy comparing what we know of ourselves against what we imagine could be true about someone else. When I was getting ready to launch a program for my new business, some people told me I reminded them of a well-known another author and thought leader. Naturally curious, I had to Google her. My heart sank because yes, we seemed to have a similar some similar messages for women about confidence and achievement. This discovery left me deflated and tempted to quit my project. My inner critic sat ready to remind me that since she’s already “famous,” there’s no room left for me to share my own message. Had I chosen to believe this lie, it would have kept me from taking brave next steps for my business and from helping others.
I get chances every day figure out the fix to avoid the “compare and despair” cycle. Here’s what I’ve learned and used to help me move beyond the moments when I’m tempted to play small because, compared to someone else, I think I’m not enough.
Reverse the doubt spiral
When I see someone achieving something I’d like to do, my inner critic gets the best of me and I think, “She’s already doing this. There’s no room for me.” I don’t necessarily feel envious, I actually feel inadequate. My imposter syndrome starts flare and I wonder if I’m even qualified to do this work. Those feelings cause me to act hesitant. I’m tempted to slow down or stop altogether. This result is expensive – not only for my peace, but also for my worthiness and confidence. It’s expensive for my career because I play small. I don’t put my creativity and ideas out there and it becomes a vicious cycle of doubting and failing.
I’ve had to find ways to reverse engineer my thinking, starting with getting clear about what I want my results to be. If I want to launch creative programs that help women ask for what they’re worth and lead at the next level, then I what actions are needed to achieve that? If I know these actions are holding clear conversations with people and education about my programs, then how will I need to feel to propel me into action? I will need to feel excitement, creativity, joy, worthiness, adequacy. To feel that way, I need to be thinking kind, not critical, thoughts such as:
“I have been chosen for my own gifts.”
“I am fully adequate and there’s enough room for all of us.”
“I believe that the world is abundant because the world’s abundant.”
“There’s enough room for all of us.”
How could your reality be different if you believed that the world was abundant and there was enough room for everybody’s gifts and everybody’s talents? Consider this. What if God made all of us to complement and help each other rather than compete with one another? Wouldn’t it be in His best interest to make enough room for everybody to do what He had uniquely created and called them to do? This feels more peaceful than my critical “She’s already ahead of me and owns the market,” mindset. This joyful and peaceful mindset better helps me step into my own calling and know my worth, rather than spend my energy comparing myself to others.
I am not a victim of other’s success
Comparison is born out of fear – an illusion. My inner critic speaks in fear by telling me lies about a situation, feeding on my own insecurity. So, just like a magic trick, which is an illusion, I have to outsmart it. What’s the best way to bust through illusions’ tricks? To get close up and understand the process. When I see someone else that might be doing something similar to me, instead of retreating in fear, I reach out to get know them and understand their talents and vision. When I get to know them close up, I actually find that my comparison-based fears were false. These same people I thought were “in my space” are unique and seemed to come into my life at the right time so we learn from each other and coexist in this place of abundance.
As you scan the world, it’s so easy to look side to side and take notice of what everybody else is doing and seems to be achieving. And yet, I am not a victim of their success. When I believe that someone else’s success comes at the expense of mine, it also means that I believe my identity is at risk of being lost. How could anyone make me lose something that can’t be lost?
I can neglect this identity or calling that has been laid in my lap specifically for me when I am too busy looking from side to side (running into poles and glass doors!). I lose focus on my own gifts when I’m engrossed with everybody else. When I reclaim focus on my own unique gifts, it gives me the confidence not only to move forward on what feels fulfilling for me, but I also have a more love and abundance to conspire with everyone else to help them achieve what they’ve been called to do as well.
How would your results change if you walked through your life and career as though everybody was placed on this planet to conspire to help you move you forward?
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