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Why Comparing Yourself to Others Derails Your Leadership Development
Sometimes you are ahead, and sometimes you fall behind. If you take a long, hard look at life through the prism of experience, you will realize that your “race” has really only ever been against yourself.
“Racing” others and comparing yourself to them is little more than a distraction, but the price of that distraction is often stress and lowered self-esteem.
Comparing yourself to others is mostly an exercise in futility.
In the context of intelligent leadership, it makes sense to learn from others. In several of my books that focus on leadership development, I mention the need to build a reservoir of positive references in your career, even if you can only do it vicariously. You can then tap into this reservoir in times of need, enabling you to see yourself through difficult problems and grow more mature as you assimilate each successfully navigated challenge into your reference tank.
If you find someone capable of solving a problem more efficiently, there is no shame in adopting the new approach if it makes sense.
None of these practices require you to actively compare yourself to others though. Falling into that trap will hurt your leadership development as well as the productivity of your team.
Comparison Can Result in a Toxic Workplace Atmosphere
Healthy competition between team members and teams can be constructive as long as it fits within the scope of the set organizational goals. When competition results in resentment, however, it stops being both fun and constructive.
The toxicity of comparison-based competition often seeps into organizational culture, poisoning trust, work ethic, and productivity. When coupled with gossip, this toxic environment can cause any workplace to become unbearable.
It Is a Waste of Time You Cannot Afford
If you are set on improving your leadership skills and meaningfully forwarding your career, you cannot afford to get caught up in utterly meaningless and mostly fictitious rivalries.
Set yourself an ideal that you hold worthy of pursuing. Do your best to always bring yourself closer to the realization of this ideal. If you make consistent progress toward this goal, you can consider yourself a successful person.
You only have yourself to beat.
Keeping your focus on working to improve yourself makes much more sense than to succumb to the useless mental gymnastics that comparing yourself to others will cause you to do. Comparing yourself will cost you time, energy, and self-esteem.
Comparing Yourself to Others Hurts Your Self-esteem
Comparing your behind-the-scenes footage to someone else’s highlight reel will hardly provide you with a boost of confidence. Remember, you can never know someone else as well as you know yourself, and when it comes to most people in our professional lives, you’re likley to only ever see what a person is willing to show you.
If you compare yourself to others, you risk always seeing yourself at a disadvantage, and being constantly preoccupied with what you do not have and cannot do.
Such a negative state of mind will cost you opportunities and will dissuade you from putting in your best effort. Comparison sabotages confidence.
How Can You Stop Comparing Yourself to Others?
Focus on your unique leadership skills. Know your strengths and put them to use. Be aware that whenever you compare yourself to someone else, you compare apples to oranges.
Congratulate others on their successes. Success is not a finite resource. There is plenty of it to go around.
Know that you are a unique asset for your organization, and as long as you stay committed to your ideals, you are enough as you are. Your journey is unique, as is your brand of success—one which no other person can experience the way you do.