We compare all the time and in all sorts of ways. I compare my startup to another startup. I compare my marriage to another’s marriage. I compare my car to another’s car. I compare my _______ to another’s _______. It’s an endless cycle.
There are two types of comparison – comparing “upward” and comparing “downward.” Upward comparison is when you beat yourself up by thinking other’s lives/businesses/bodies/kids/cars/houses/etc are better than yours. Downward comparison (keeping those same things in mind) says “I am better.”
Both types of comparison work the opposite way you want them to. Comparing upward doesn’t automatically get you what you want. More often than not, it creates an entitlement mindset that leaves you ungrateful for what you currently have. Comparing downward uses the limitations of others to feel better about yourself. Which is a shallow way to feel good.
Though comparison is a way to gauge how we measure up to others, it doesn’t always help you accomplish your goals. Unless you compare yourself to yourself. If you want to grow your company – compare where you are at the of the first quarter to where land at the end of the second quarter. If you want to run a faster mile, compare your time at the beginning of the month with your time at the end of the month. Comparing your company’s growth with another company’s growth, or your body’s performance with another body’s performance, isn’t fair and isn’t accurate. And that type of comparison will end in one of two ways: with insecurity (upward comparison) or an over-inflated sense of self (downward comparison).
Our 26th President of the United States sums it up well:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt