When you compare yourself to colleagues… what happens? Do you feel that you should do more, should work more hours, work harder and faster to keep up? Chances are high you feel this way, probably most of the time. Especially in a competitive environment like academia which is built around fierce competition for scarce funding or jobs, you might find yourself comparing so much. Comparison triggers feelings of not being good enough. Comparison adds to the stress that is already so high in academia.
You might say…but comparison might help me push through, go forward, do more, go faster. My question is does it? Because if it is true then by all means use comparison as a motivating force.
But before you conclude that comparison helps you, check in with yourself when you are comparing yourself to that colleague, or the group of colleagues.
How does comparison really make you feel?
How does it make you feel- does it indeed give you new energy and motivation that propels you forward? Or are you more like me and like a lot of my clients…
When I start comparing myself to competitors, other entrepreneurs and coaches who seem to be more successful, it does not propel me forward.
What happens instead is this
- I feel that I am not enough somehow
- I feel insecure- am I even cut out for this kind of work?
- My hears starts pounding and I feel agitation, chased somehow, stress…what can I do or should I do now to close the gap between me and my competitor, as quickly as possible.
- Or I feel blocked- because of the fear of not being enough
When I am feeling this way I cannot work creatively, effectively, or efficiently. The opposite happens.
Stay in your own lane
When you start comparing you will always find people who seem to be better or more successful than you. And there will always be people who are less successful than you.
Comparison won’t help you to make your best, unique contribution in this world. Comparison kills joy, creativity and energy and hence it will make doing your best work more difficult!
So instead take the advice of Brene Brown: “Stay in your own lane”.
How to do that practically?
Don’t look at everyone driving in the other lanes. Just focus on your own lane and ask yourself at the start of your day:
- How can I deliver my best work today?
- What action will have the biggest impact today?
And go and do that- just focusing on your unique, best work.