“Comparison is the thief of joy” (Teddy Roosevelt)
So often it really is.
But it is hard not to compare when we are in a competition, especially when there are prizes on the line. Right?
So we have to find the balance between being competitive/wanting to win and comparing ourselves to others along the way.
And the balance will need to be unique to us…
I’ve been repeating myself a lot lately about the importance of acknowledging what is going well along the way and doing more “self-congratulating”.
In fact recently, 3 of my key teammates began a practice of recording all of their daily accomplishments and reporting in about the things of which they are most proud. These few minutes spent at the end of each day is a nice way to close out the work day because it shows us how much we are really doing and how far we have progressed…
I recommend it to anyone- it helps.
That being said, I know many of you (me included) are still prone to feeling the sting of disappointment when we’ve busted our behinds toward a goal and we don’t “win the prize”. (Although if you ask me, it isn’t really about the prizes it is about how great you feel when you conclude with any amount of progress…)
To help send home this message, I have two quick stories for you that demonstrate the ups and downs of the win/ loss cycles.
I’ll never forget one piano competition I was in as a teenage girl.
I practiced, I prepped. I even did visualization. I had several pieces prepared. It was the music festival and if I remember correctly both my teacher and I went in thinking I was going to win a lot of 1st place ribbons.
I had such a passion for the piano and I tried to channel the emotion of the pieces.
On that day, it was a Brahms piece in a minor key. I was kind of a moody teenager and I loved anything with in a minor key with plenty of darkness and angst. This piece involved a substantial amount of crashing around and drama so it was one of my favorites to perform…
I remember playing the start of the piece with such feeling and flare and then part way through stuffing up something in the mid-section. I left the stage just devastated. I was in tears as I sat in the audience and listened to the other competitors perform. I was so disappointed with myself and my “failure”.
My teacher had to leave to go hear another student compete so I waited with my mother- who was really patient- for the adjudication and the feedback that always came at the end of performances and before certificates/ trophies were awarded.
To my absolute shock I won 1st. I think even my mother, who was a super fan of mine was surprised.
Despite totally feeling like I had ruined the piece and making a substantial error, I won. I left the stage again in tears but this time because I didn’t feel I deserved it and I was still disappointed with my performance.
Most recently I had entered to win an award for the most improved business (in the MPower Fitness Boot Camp Family).
I prepared my presentation, I diligently collected all of my numbers. I eloquently executed a powerpoint summary of how the team had grown, our continuing education efforts, our client successes, my mistakes, lessons and learnings as a leader, our business financials etc. And by far my numbers were better.I NAILED that presentation. But I didn’t win.
I was so sad. I had given all of my effort in the previous business quarter to the team and to our growth and I kicked butt on that presentation. I felt so embarrassed telling the team that we hadn’t won and I was frustrated because on the surface my numbers were better… I was told after that that level of growth was expected for me and that the others’ improvements were given more weight because they had further to go…
Funny how one win feels awful and one loss feels worse.
Sometimes we win 1st when we least expect it, sometimes we never win first even though we are doing everything we can to be the best we can be and sometimes we get overlooked when we feel like we’ve nailed it completely.
The reason that I’m sharing this is that I’ve realized that if you will recognize yourself for the work you are doing as you progress and at the end of your milestones you’ll feel even better about the journey and you’ll be less tied to the outcome.
As human beings we need recognition. We especially need it from people we respect or who are authorities in our lives. But we get into big trouble when we tie our self-esteem too heavily to external recognition. Meaning when we seek only external validation of our progress, success or worthiness over that which we provide ourselves internally we will be disappointed more often than not.
We’ve all been there.
Which is why this most recent loss sucked but I was fortunately able to move through it faster than ever because along the way I had been noting all that I had done and all that had gone well…so when the comparison demon tried to rear his ugly head and negate all the amazing work we had done I told that jerk to get stuffed because even though I didn’t win I had still kicked a**.
Committed to your success,
Megan K and the team