During a recent interview, I was asked what piece of wisdom or advice I would want to go back and give myself when I was first starting my business. After thinking about it, I would want to let myself know that building your business is not a completion and it is not a race. Knowing this would have saved me a lot of heart ache over the years.
It’s human nature to want to gauge where we are and how we are doing by comparing ourselves to others around us. Sometimes we come out ahead and feel good about where we are, but most of the time we don’t. We tend to torture ourselves by picking someone (or multiple someones) who we admire and then focus exclusively on their strengths and successes. We build them up in our minds and create powerful stories about them so they almost seem all powerful and all knowing. It seems they are able to do, have and be the things that we want in our life. They have it and I don’t . . . what’s wrong with me?
Then, to make matters worse, we tend focus on our own weaknesses, shortcomings and failures, while “yes butting” our successes and minimizing the positives in our business. We compare our negative traits, shortcomings and failures to their accomplishments, successes and strengths. It is quite the unfair comparison. But we do it every day often without realizing it. It is undermining your confidence, eroding your happiness and sabotaging your success.
Building a business is not a competition and it’s not a race. Some people have the time, energy, skills and natural ability to get things up and running quickly. Others move at a slower pace, learning the skills, recognizing their gifts and finding their way as they go. It can get discouraging when you constantly feel like you are constantly behind and that you’ll never catch up.
Comparing yourself to others is the most common root of emotional suffering. It taps on our feelings of not being good enough. That’s why I want to let you in on a few secrets I have gleaned from my 20+ years of working as a psychotherapist. . . .
- Nobody is Perfect. Everyone has problems. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they do, how beautiful they look or how much money they have. Everyone has flaws, weaknesses, bad habits, devastating failures, secret shames and ghosts from the past. You may not be able to see them, but trust me they are there.
- Nobody is a complete screw-up. Everyone has strengths, talents, and God given gifts to share with the world. You may feel overwhelmed with your problems or stuck in a bad situation with no clear way out. The more you focus on the negative (problem, feeling stuck, failures) the more magnified they are and the worse you feel.
- Energy flows where your thoughts go. What you focus on expands and multiplies and you draw more of it into your awareness. My daughter recently started playing “punch buggy” with us. Until she started brining them into my awareness, I had not really noticed them. Now I see them everywhere. Focus on your strengths, celebrate your successes, express your appreciation and share your love so that those things expand in your life.
- One size does not fit all. There is not one tool, technique or magic bullet that will make all your problems disappear and guarantee the success you desire. Everyone is different and what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Just because someone made a million dollars, lost 100 lbs. and found the love of their life with a step-by-step no fail system doesn’t mean it will work for you.
- You have the freedom (and responsibility) to create your life and business the way you want. You get to set the vision and decide how you are going to get there. Just remember that with freedom comes great responsibility. There are mindsets, marketing skills and business strategies that make it easier to create what you want. If you don’t know them, learn them. Once you learn them, then you can adapt them to fit your style and decide how you want to apply them in your business.
If you aren’t having fun and feel stressed out by your business, quit the race and stop comparing yourself to others. Remember . . . Comparison = Suffering. Just say “NO” to suffering!