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Why Comparison Matters - and How You Can Transform It

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Since launching Beyond Compare, Lauren and I have been talking to a lot of people about comparison – why it matters, and how we go about transforming it.

Maybe all this comparison talk resonates immediately with you, or maybe it all seems a little abstract. So today, we want to share a little more about why we think compulsive comparison is a stumbling block for so many – as well as the framework we’ve developed for considering how comparison works.


Why Comparison Matters

In our extensive (professional AND – ahem – personal) research, we have come to understand that comparison tops pretty much any other Big Bad Beastie that gets in the way of our progress (again... professional AND personal).

Google “quotes about comparison” the next time you have a spare hour to kill to see just how ubiquitous it is.

When we are invited to do interviews about comparison, the invites are typically framed as “the #1 issue my listeners are grappling with.” It affects SO MANY OF US. (And while it affects each of us differently, if we’re being honest, most of us have been brought to our knees by its force on occasion.)

If you allow it to, Beyond Compare will help you to see where comparison may be...

  • stopping you from creating what you want
  • preventing you from activating your calling
  • making you feel (and play) small for fear of projections
  • keeping you from expressing yourself fully
  • causing you to disown your power (and hand it over to others).

It matters. Oh, how it matters. Only YOU can say for yourself just how much it matters –  personally and professionally.

How You Can Transform It

In our research, we have also come to understand comparison as a three-dimensional structure. On the one plane, we compare up (looking up to others in a way that “others” us from them) and we compare down (judging and disdaining others in a way that, you guessed it, “others” us from them).

On the other plane, we compare ourselves to others AND we experience others comparing themselves to us. Up or down. Whether we’ve been put on a pedestal or are judged harshly, the impact of “othering” once again endures.

So that’s the framework. It looks like this:

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The big idea behind the work we’ve poured into the program is to offer real and substantive tools that move us from Disdain to Evaluation and from Hero-Worship to Celebration.


Here’s a nibble to whet your appetite for the delicious feast that is Beyond Compare:

Moving From Disdain to Evaluation

Evaluation emerges when we choose to engage critically with someone’s work or behaviour without making them, as a person, wrong. Respectful debate, thoughtful performance assessments, engaging a beloved friend in a difficult conversation: all of these exist in evaluation territory.

If you catch yourself stuck in Disdain territory, try this reflection to shift you into Evaluation:

  • Who do I judge for doing what I’m embarrassed to admit I do too? What’s the behaviour I’m ashamed of?
  • Who do I judge for behaving in ways I secretly wish I could “get away with?" What do I fear would happen if I behaved that way, too?
  • Where are the qualities that I disdain holding me back?
  • What could I do if I gave myself permission to embody those qualities?

Of course, this work has many more layers, but this is a place to start.

Moving from Hero-Worship to Celebration

To understand Celebration, think of a beloved teacher, close ally, or dear friend – anyone who inspires us to say, “I am better because of you.” They help us face and overcome challenges, by showing us our own strengths.

The energy here is a kind of curious equanimity: We notice difference and similarity, and make the most of both. We don’t value a person more or less because they possess a particular trait; we simply appreciate it, and ask how we can celebrate it, while also celebrating our selves.

To shift from Hero-Worship to Celebration, consider the following questions:

  • Who do I admire?
  • What do I admire about them?
  • When I consider these people, do I notice any common threads? If so, what are they?
  • Now, experiment with looking at those strengths and gifts, and telling yourself that you have the full potential to embody them. What would it look like if you allowed those parts of yourself more room?

What did you discover through these two exercises?

You may have noticed that the “fix,” in each case, is to quit focusing your energy on the other person and direct it squarely towards yourself. While it may feel like it’s the other person evoking a response in you, the reality is that your response is entirely within your control. You can choose Hero-Worship or Celebration, Disdain or Evaluation.

The freedom that comes from choice is the reason we created Beyond Compare. The freedom to create. The freedom to follow your own calling. The freedom to own your authority and succeed on your own terms.

Because we can taste that freedom. And we want it for you.

You too? Grab your copy of Beyond Compare here.

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Ready or Not: Expansion, eclipses, and throwing your limitations into the volcano of your desires.

"'Come to the edge,' he said.
They said, 'We are afraid.'
'Come to the edge,' he said.
They came.
He pushed them.

And they flew."

- Apollinaire

My father loved to tell the story of how he learned to swim.

 

Long ago in Karlsruhe, Germany, my dad was a 6-year old tagging along with his big brother on a date. They had ridden their bikes to the Rhine River and my uncle was big-talking to his sweetheart about his swimming prowess. (Neither my father nor my uncle knew how to swim at this point, though my father really wanted to learn).

My dad called him out on it, to which my embarrassed uncle responded with brute big brother energy. He ripped the tire off of his bike, wound it around my father a couple of times, blew the air back into it with his hand pump, and chucked him into the river.

(Sidebar: I ought to be horrified by this, but I’ve known this story my whole life and can only ever see it through the animated filter of Bugs Bunny.)

He floated, of course. Bobbing alongside my uncle and his nonplussed girlfriend. And pretty soon his arms and legs caught on.

Ready or not, he learned to swim that day.

One event that had the same effect on me was watching a full lunar eclipse. I felt like I was walking along and someone hurled me into frigid waters.

I bobbed along in shocked disorientation for a while, then my arms and legs caught on and I began to swim.

Maybe you feel it too. Have any world-changing epiphanies doused your reality? Do you feel the rug coming out from under you? Are you rethinking EVERYTHING you’re doing in a current venture? Are your rethinking EVERYTHING period?

Yes, yes. You’re in excellent company. And now that the dust has settled (for now), you may be grappling with what's next. Like, what to actually DO about it.

I have seen what is next for me in my business. And it is huge and bright. And try as I might, I cannot unsee it.

(And why might I try to unsee it? Because the brilliance is blinding. Same reason we always try to dim the light.)

But it’s here. Because although I feel like I got chucked into the Rhine unexpectedly, I’ve been yearning for this expansion - dreaming of it, praying for it, conjuring it.

And, ready or not, it’s here. And it’s hungry.

So this past week I’ve been feeding it a steady diet of my limitations. For every “I can’t” and “I don’t know how” that has shown up (and there have been plenty), I’ve been hurling them into the gaping mouth of the volcano of my desires. (The ensuing lava flares and fire fountain I envision are Bugs Bunny calibre.) In with the limitations go old habits, beliefs, and stories.

It’s not always this easy. Except when it is.

And then I breathe into the space that just created.

If you’re on the precipice of your desires, whether you’ve thoughtfully and carefully navigated your way there, or you’ve been thrust into them by cosmic intervention, trust that your legs and arms will carry you. You will learn to swim. But to actualize your expansion, you will need to lighten your load.

Ready or not, there are many more eclipses on the horizon.


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For the Moment That Has You Question Your Bravery

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You were brave. You remember, don’t you?

No? Okay. Here it is. You were brave:

when you stayed.

when you left.

when you said, "No, but let’s try this."

when you said, "No, never."

when you said, "Yes, thank you. More, please."

when your wave to the cool kids wasn’t returned (and still, you kept your head high).

when you kissed the ground (even though you wanted to shake your fist at the sky).

when you stood up.

when you stood down.

when you kept writing, speaking, teaching, singing, preaching, going.

(even though...)

when you danced with the shadow (but didn’t go to second base).

when you were so worn out, but made it count anyway.

when you wore your heart on your sleeve (it SO brings out your eyes).

when you believed.

when you trusted.

when you knew that you knew.

when you raised your hand.

when you took the high road (and not just for the panoramic views).

when you didn't feel so hot in the bathing suit, but swam in the grace around you just the same.

when you made your dreams your mission.

when you shelved your dreams for someone else’s (though you’ll never do THAT again).

when you tossed your limitations into the volcano of your desires.

when you committed to your life.

when you kept your promise to others,

when you kept your promise to yourself.

when you kept your promise to your soul.

when you trusted how it felt (not how it looked).

when you kept showingupshowingupshowingup (even though the duvet beckoned).

when you forgave (REALLY forgave),

when you decided to stop deferring to others.

when you decided that enough was enough and that you were enough (oh, that was a good one).

when you risked it.

when you risked telling someone they matter.

when you decided it wasn’t too latebut also that it wasn't too soon to just.get.going.

when you chose collaboration over competition,

discernment over decisiveness,

generosity over guarantees,

curiosity over certitude.

when you tapped yourself in.

when you switched gears (even though everyone was watching).

when you chose to love.

when you chose joy.

and, when you chose you.

So, you see? Every.single.day. you keep showing it. You keep showing us.


This Thursday, February 1 at 2pm EST,
I will be live on Facebook talking all things bravery. I hope you'll join me.


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Give it Time

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When we decide we want to do something BIG - build a business, write a book, launch a program, make the move - we deliberate and deliberate and then we deliberate some more. And then one day, we decide. After the due diligence, the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t’s (and the re-dotting and re-crossing), after the advice, the hand-wringing, we finally wind up here:

Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly. - Alain de Botton

And so we begin.

But then our relationship with time does this crazy back flip. We imagine that all of those hours of chronic fretting and crossing and dotting and asking and worrying and imagining somehow counted as putting in the time for the work because we expect instant results.

The tiger in our tanks is hungry and wants to be fed NOW. Big, meaty morsels of success.

One catch: the work wasn’t in the fretting and obsessing and stressing. The work is in doing the work.

Which - bear with me - just takes time.

Yes. It just takes time.

It takes time to find your voice. It takes time to build your authority. It takes time to hone your mastery. It takes time. It just takes time.


Instead of looking at time as the burly doorman that stands between you and your success, consider this:

Time is a gift you offer your loves, your friends, your family, your community.

Offer it generously to your business, book, program, or move. Lay it reverently on the altar of your desires.

How much time?

That’s a fine question.

Is it 10,000 hours spent on the road to mastery? Maybe. Is it the magical and mythical 5 years you’ve been prescribed to allow your business to "make it (whatever that may mean to you)?" Possibly.

It depends on your willingness to see it through.

Will it be worth it? Another fine question.

My vote is YES.

That the THERE you envision is everything you’ve ever hoped for. And more.

That the flaccid results and crickets that can show up early in the process are simply here to help you hone in, discern, and finesse.

Doing the work is unsexy business. It requires patience, perseverance, and focus.

It requires tenacity.

Give it time to mature, to expand, to grow, to reach, to soar.

The steady results you seek require your steadiness.

Now’s not the time to rock the boat. Now’s the time to give it time.


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Everything’s a teacher

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It is an unmitigated wonder that my daughter still tells me anything.

Because as much as I do my best to simply listen, to simply be, to offer her my presence and my unconditional love, I fall short. Often. And instead, I counsel. I point out the opportunities, the possibilities, the other ways, the other paths. It has got to be annoying as all hell for the poor child.

But yet, there it is:

“What are you learning?” 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Because it’s a good question. Maybe the BEST question.

Here’s what we know: comparison is a teacher. A flashing red beacon that clearly and unapologetically shows us what we want as embodied by those that we compare up to and clearly shows us what we don't want as embodied by those we compare down to. (Lauren and I tackle this more fully and completely in our Beyond Compare self-study program.)

I speak and write often and at great length about how the Impostor Complex is a reliable teacher about what matters to us.

But guess what else is a teacher?

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

Procrastination
Discomfort
Envy
Fear
Anger
Lethargy
Worry
Perfectionism

But also:

Joy
Excitement
Ease
Pleasure
Delight
Flow
Satisfaction
And so worth repeating: joy.

Alllllllllllllll of it.


So the real question is:

What are you learning?


And then:

What are you going to do about it?

A couple of ideas.

Choose differently.
Change course.
Do something.
Do better.
Say no.
Say yes.
Show up.
Stand up.
Speak up.
SHINE UP.
Vote. TODAY.

Easier said than done? Could be.  But the alternative is really not acceptable, is it?

Agreed.


PS - We’re opening the doors for The Step into Your Starring Role Academy very very soon. Sign up here for first dibs. Nine months of sitting UP, rising UP, speaking UP, stepping UP and shining UP.