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The Comparison Bug

BIZ

 

I’m getting ready to head out to check off another “life to-do” off my list – attending the World Domination Summit and visiting Portland. (If you’re going to be there – please let me know so we can meet up!). While I am excited about what’s ahead, I can’t help but be extremely nervous.

You see, the people who are going to be there are my peers and people I aspire to be. In other words, there is going to be a whole lot of awesome in the room. All I can think about is… how do I compare? I’m not as successful as this attendee, I don’t have as much traffic as that speaker, I haven’t “gone viral” like that person, and so on.

It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison bug when you work for yourself.

You start-out trying to overcome skepticism from all angles and then are bombarded by messages from “experts” who want to tell you exactly how they got as big as they did. You hear about overnight success stories and people living off of the income from their blog, and it gives you hope… but also makes you feel inadequate.

If they are making so much money…

If they can sign-up that many clients…

If they can write a post that goes viral…

If they have over a million hits a month…

WHY CAN’T I?

Ironically, my business is doing better than it ever has – I’m growing, I’m sustainable, I’m paying the bills, and I’m working with awesome people. But I can’t help myself from comparing my current state of business with the people I’m going to be meeting this week. And it freaks me the heck out.

In the corporate world, comparison felt different. Other people’s success was motivation for me to keep moving forward. It just felt like I had a path – and the comparisons helped push me onto the “right” one. My success was more linear. More visible. More within my own control.

I never felt inferior to my peers or my mentors. My success was based on what I was “told” to do. What the business needed. What was best for the company. What was asked of me.

For the first time, I’m stepping out among my peers (and people I aspire to be like someday), wearing the badge of what I, alone, am responsible for. Honestly, I’ve shied away from going to these types of events because I didn’t know if I belonged in the same space as the other attendees.

And now… while I’m still freaking out about comparisons and success measures, I have people there! I have friends that I can’t wait to see when I’m there. I received tweets from people I am “obsessed” with who *know who I am!?!?!* and want to meet up. And I am excited to meet other people at various stages of their own journey who I would have never have known otherwise.

In other words, I’m treating this like a corporate business trip. (Attendees would probably gasp if they read this). I’m putting on my employee hat, and not concentrating so much on being the owner this week. I am going with specific goals for myself, I am going to act in the best interest of the company (even though it happens to be my company), and I am going to be confident that I belong.

We can’t constantly compare our successes or failures with someone else’s measuring stick. It’s never calibrated equally.

The person who is making so much money? She has been at it for over 10 years on her own. She has worked incredibly hard for nine times longer than I have, to get to that income bracket.

The person who has a ton of clients and a constant referral machine, doesn’t convert as high of a percentage of people that they could, especially repeat customers.

The person who wrote a viral post, had some help with it “going viral”… and didn’t capture any more of an audience or client conversions, than before the post went everywhere.

And so on…

It’s not about what they are doing… it’s about what you are doing, right now.

6 comments

Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com - July 2, 2013 Reply

Can I just say this was spot on? I know that even though I now work for one client/employer instead of freelancing, I still run my blog as a business and it’s so easy to go down that trail. WDS was such an uncomfortable situation for me last year, instead of feeling inspired I felt insecure, overwhelmed and insufficient… why hadn’t I created big ass change? How would I make my 26th year of life remarkable? Why wasn’t my business successful like a “$100 startup?”

Then I realized…WHAT IS THE BIG RUSH? Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau and all the others didn’t find their claim to fame as soon as they started having those questions. Nobody starts soul searching and figures it out right away without a few identity crises and panic attacks. Many have had failed businesses and those are the footnotes that don’t fit in the story of their lives when they are talked about in a short 500 word blog post, you just see the success. Not that they mean to be so succinct, but that’s the part WE read, not the part where they were aimlessly wandering from one project to the next before becoming the polished person we know them as now.

It always looks so simple as if their ONE idea was what made them successful, and I would panic that I hadn’t had my ONE idea yet, or my ONE business plan that would hallmark the rest of my life… I realize that greatness is a process. I wish I could have told myself that a year ago, everyone is on their own timeframe. Stop comparing. Stop freaking out. You’ll get there even if you don’t know what “there” is yet.

Can’t wait to see you!

melissalywc - July 2, 2013 Reply

@FrugalBeautiful:disqus – Your thoughtful comment makes my heart fill up with joy. 🙂 Your perspective is well-valued – thank you for taking the time to read/comment. I can’t wait to see you too!!!

Rebecca Fraser-Thill - July 5, 2013 Reply

The comparison bug is a nasty little virus indeed, and one that is hard to kick. I think it’s easy to get caught up in it regardless of your line of work because there’s always *somebody* out there doing something “better” than you are. It’s interesting that it didn’t feel like that in the corporate world for you. I feel in academia, but perhaps that is because it is a more individualistic setting?

I’m still trying to kick the comparison bug myself, but on my good days I’m able to stay focused on my priorities and goals and keep in mind how I am FEELING as much as how much I am earning, connecting, etc., etc.

Have a great time in Portland – I am uber-jealous and wish I could be there! (But I did enjoy meeting Jenny & Paul in NYC earlier this week, which counts for something – would’ve loved to have gotten to meet you there, too, though!)

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