“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Your decision is clear—you’re going make your imprint in your industry. You work hard, do your research, and put yourself out there. Feeling great, you think, “I’ve got this!” Then, you watch as someone else brilliantly outshines you, and think, “I could never be that good, so why bother.” Deflated, you begin questioning your goals, and start wondering if you should try a different route to success.

Has this happened to you? It happens to me nearly every time I watch someone deliver (what looks like) a flawless speech. It doesn’t matter whether I’m watching them on YouTube, in a small gathering, or on a giant stage. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if they speak on a totally different topic.

Watching his ridiculously powerful stage presence, I found it difficult to stop analyzing the way he told his stories long enough to even appreciate how Dan Barber fell in love with a fish. Fortunately, I caught myself and was able to appreciate both his content and soak up his story-telling brilliance.

It’s a love-hate relationship I have with talented speakers. I love their talent, passion, and dedication to the craft, but I also hate dealing with the inner monologue they prompt. Before I get a chance to appreciate their perspective, my internal monologue starts convincing me…

“They’re already doing everything you want to do—and so much better—so what’s the point? Quit now. Go find something to focus on, where you can be the best.” Of course, that doesn’t exist, and fortunately there will always be someone whose brilliance can help us develop and improve.

Seriously though, why should I bother stirring up enthusiasm, productivity, and provoking greatness… across generations, when Eric Chester and Jason Dorsey are kicking some major butt out there? Seriously, their dedication, commitment, passion, and performance are top-notch. Hire them, and your audience will walk away not only more knowledgeable, but motivated.

Here are a few other remarkable speakers who have prompted my “Why bother” monologue: Dr. Nido Qubein, Brené Brown, Seth Godin, Mark Scharenbroich, Lou Heckler. Of course, it’s not like we pick mediocre people to compare ourselves to—No, we chose award-winning superstars who consistently and courageously work at their craft.

Ready to break free of the debilitating effect of such paralyzing comparisons, the following five steps aid greatly in remaining focused on moving your own ball forward:

  1. Notice and Acknowledge your thoughts. Please, do yourself a favor and avoid trying to hide, fade, or fix them. What we resist, persists. Simply begin to notice what you’re telling yourself.
  2. Get Curious. With the curiosity of a 5-year-old that has to know why, why, why, become curious about the nature of the conversation going on inside your head.
  3. Defuse your storyline. Rather than allow yourself to get caught up in self-judgment, consider literally saying to yourself, “Isn’t that interesting. I wonder where that thought comes from.” This allows you to remove the “good/bad, right/wrong” of the stories you’re telling yourself.
  4. Remember where you started (or, are starting) and keep perspective on YOUR growth. Or, as Brene Brown suggested, “Stay in your own lane,” when she shared about her competitive nature in swimming.
  5. Act anyway. Keep practicing, keep learning, and keep sharing your passions, especially when that voice creeps in. Otherwise, we risk the possibility of allowing our fears to ruin our dreams.

Repeat these steps over and over again as you bare silent witness to the magic of the process. And, remember: it’s never about being the best, but giving your best every single day. As don Miguel Ruiz says, “Your best is different every day.” Honor YOUR journey, listen, be curious, and keep moving your ball forward.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh


Here’s to Your Greatness,

Misti Burmeister

NEW! Ready to reconnect to the excitement of—

—Your work/career

—Leading your team

—Growing your bottom line, along with your people?

Grab your 40 minute Gearing for Greatness session with Misti today—

“Working with Misti Burmeister will be one of the best decisions you have ever made as a leader. She helped me integrate new behaviors and thought processes to bolster my overall leadership presence.” –Kevin Frick, Professor and Dean, Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business