Compare yourself to others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

I actually disagree with Mr Roosevelt.

Yaya. Countless articles are out there about how we compare ourselves and why we should stop doing it, we should not compare because it makes us unhappy, there will always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, richer. We should only compete and compare against ourselves because we are unique. It is human nature to compare…

But.

Comparing yourself to others is actually great in a way.

Can you imagine if no one compared themselves to each other?

We would still be living in caves, grunting at each other with a bear skin draped around our shoulders.

Fastest jet, flashiest car, 3g, 4g, 5g networks, 2mp cameras, 3mp cameras, 5mp camera. Everything evolves incrementally as we constantly seek to outperform our latest competitor, and improve on it.

Black and white, to 4 colours, and now we have 4k HD phones. We did not jump from black and white to 4k, we improved marginally and incrementally.

See the source image
(This model was actually one of my first ever phones…! I will donate it to a museum in a few years…)

Humans are no different. Faster, stronger, smarter, sharper.

Growth and progress is based on continual, incremental improvements. If you told someone 100 years ago, how fast do you think the fastest man could run 100m? They would have thought you were insane if you said <10 seconds.

Yet here we are, Mr Usain Bolt at 9.58.

It is a joy and a wonder to see someone pass what we thought was impossible.

The motivation and drive we feel from seeing this, is a positive thing, “if they can do it, why can’t I”.

Yes in some ways, it is a curse if we desire and cling to becoming something that we cannot be, and hence goals- beating yourself up about them (I’ve written a whole article dedicated to this here).

I will never be as fast as Usain, no matter how hard I try or train and I can compare myself against him and beat myself up 100 times over.

But, if I can compare myself against him, compare my technique and my training methods- I might improve my speed. Even a 0.5 seconds increase might mean a rise of 20 places in the national rankings. #win

By comparing ourselves we understand what is within the realms of possibility.

If we can take a step back and admire those who have surpassed our imagination – it is an inspiration and a joy to compare ourselves to others in the pursuit of what we strive for.


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