Starting my career in sales I have always been used to comparing my sales numbers to others and using that friendly competition to hit my goals and make myself better. But is there ever a point where comparing yourself to others becomes detrimental to your success?
After recently becoming a mom to my now 10 month old, Ripley who is smart, handsome, funny, charismatic, strong and the best baby boy of all time (can you tell I am a proud mom?) I realized that sometimes comparing yourself (or in this case my son) to others is not always a good thing and can actually do more harm than good.
So I know what you’re thinking… why is being a new mom relevant to the topic of comparing yourself to others in a work environment? Well, I will tell you that becoming a new mom has taught me a lot. One of the biggest lessons I have learned pretty quickly is that I cannot compare my son to other babies that are around his age. I heard this advice time and time again from my pediatrician and in every mommy blog out there…but this is something I am very much guilty of. “Why isn’t Ripley rolling over yet?” “Why isn’t Ripley crawling yet?” “Why isn’t Ripley getting any teeth yet?” and the list of “why’s” could continue on and on. I understand the importance of hitting milestones and the importance of watching for developmental delays, but this is different from comparing to what others are doing and at what pace. Everyone has told me that kids develop at their one pace and unless your Dr. says to worry, don’t. What I learned is that this stress and worry about what other babies were doing or not doing in comparison to my own son could go on forever and ever if I continue with this comparison game. And I don’t want to be “that mom” who is always trying to push my child to be better than “Johnny, or Betty or Paul.” I just want him to be the best that he can be! I found that this comparison game was taking away from the developments that he was achieving and the excitement that I should be feeling when he started to crawl or roll over or got a tooth… it was more of a “finally he is hitting this milestone”, versus this is an exciting moment!” Luckily I realized this now and not when he was 30… (Why isn’t he married yet?)
So as I think about my own professional career and development I realize that there are performance standards and “milestones” that I need to personally hit in order to maintain my job and be successful, but comparing my own performance to that of others can at times cause unnecessary stress and anxiety and take away from those accomplishments I have made. As long as I know I am meeting or hitting my own personal goals and I know that I am doing my best every day, that should be the satisfaction I need. After all, everyone is different and everyone does develop at different rates. I have also learned this through managing my team. I have to be careful about comparing my team members to one another, because after all, everyone is different and develops at their own pace.
Now I am not telling you to throw out that friendly competition or to be oblivious to what are the set expectations, this is just a reminder to do your personal best each and every day and don’t get caught up in the “my baby is better than your baby” game. It is a slippery slope that can lead to un-needed pressure and stress which can alienate you from others and derail your accomplishments. So celebrate your personal victories no matter how small they might be!