Without a doubt, my biggest struggle in moving forward and becoming more successful is figuring out how to stop caring what people think about me and how to stop comparing myself to others.
This might sound easy for some; but for me, it’s been my largest obstacle.
I can receive 100 emails a week: 95 amazing ones and five “not so friendly” ones. Out of all of those emails — which ones do you think I dwell upon the most? Sometimes, I am good at letting the bad ones go, but not every time.
I can speak in front of 200 people, rock the keynote to get a standing ovation, and be invited back to speak the next year, but then have one person come up to me and say, “Your style is way too much for me, and I don’t like it.” What do you think I think about most? Sometimes, I can let the negative comments slide, but not every time.
I have been blogging for over five years now and working to grow relationships with my readers. It has been paying off, but I see other speakers–who haven’t been blogging for as long as I have–claim 100,000 followers! I can’t help but wonder: What am I doing? Where am I slacking? Why am I not there, yet?
As the saying goes by Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy!”
I am tired of living my life like this. I know I am capable of so much more! I must stop caring what people think and stop comparing myself to others. So, this weekend I decided to do something about it. I took time to define what success looks like to me and to figure out a solution to stop comparing myself to others.
In order to stop comparing ourselves to others, we need to first understand what makes us happy and feel successful. I needed to define what success looks like for me.
After some long walks, workout sessions, and coaching from my wife, I found my current definition of success: I am successful if I can do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want! As long as I can say this everyday, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing because I am living a successful life.
What is your definition of success? Work hard to identify it! Identifying what success looks like to you is a first step in overcoming the tendency to compare yourself to others.
I haven’t mastered this, yet. I still need to work on not caring what others think of me, and I would really like to hear from you. I began this blog to help us all become better speakers and leaders. I hope I am not the only one who feels like this. So, let’s start a conversation: How do we stop caring about what others think of us? How can we stop comparing ourselves to others?
Leave a comment below, or start a conversation on a social media outlet. Let’s help each other out.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas. As always…
Join the discussion 21 Comments
When I feel the comparison bug creeping in I try to focus on something that I feel grateful for. Redirecting my thoughts to something that fills me with gratitude usually works (not always!).
Great idea Jill! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Great post Ryan. Everyone one struggles with the comparison mentality. I, of course, am not impervious to this “epidemic.” One thing I’ve implemented in my life is to acknowledge simply that I am not perfect. My perfectionism have brought focus and dedication yet I was easily stressed out and frustrated over my high standard. I realized that part of what success means is not it’s actual achievement but the process of doing the very best you are capable of and learning from your mistakes.
I’m excited to see you growing from your post-world champion of public speaking life. It definitely can be easy but hard as one has to always think about the big picture. Like Covey said, beginning with the end in mind always help!
Excellent article Ryan! Appreciate your transparency because it is a common issue, one that most of us routinely need to examine.
One perspective that helps me is to remember often the person who feels the need to make a negative remark is someone who compared themselves to you, found themselves not measuring up and the negative remark is about meeting their own need to feel better about themselves.
Then take it step further – graciously thank them for the feedback, examine it, if it does not ring true or resonate with you – quickly discard it and say “that’s not me”.
That is a great perspective, thank you so much for sharing Stephanie! I don’t know why this can be so hard at times but it is good to know others find ways to combat these things as well! I will do this moving forward, thank you again!
Love that quote by Covey, thank you for sharing. I am going to think about it a lot this week! Thanks Paul.
As the saying goes by Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy!”
I love this quote. If you ask me, how to not compare yourself to others I would have to tell you to follow your own good advise. And I believe what you said was, YOU MUST STAY FOCUSED ON ‘YOUR” GOAL…. and you said something about not trying to win the contest you weren’t in yet!
Stay focused! I think you are amazing!
Thank you for the post.
I think that we should continue to Care and Compare but the caring and comparing should be regarding each of us individually. We should constantly compare ourselves against ourselves. Before I learned this principle from Darren Hardy, I would get so frustrated that I wasn’t where so and so are. However, after reading, Design Your Best Year Ever by Mr. Hardy, it forced me to focus on comparing my new self with my old self. As long as personal growth and progression are happening and my goals are continuing to come to fruition, I no longer get frustrated.
Again, thank you for the post. Hope you have a great day!
Great idea Matt. It is true, only compete against yourself. Thanks for the reminder Matt!
It’s true Louise! Thank you for that reminder and I am going to internally say, “Comparison is the their of joy” more often!
I also struggle with this and it does steal joy. I haven’t found a solution yet. I think you’re making great progress towards one with defining success for yourself and acknowledging when you achieved that. Then to allow that and any progress towards being more kind and loving to be enough.
Ryan, this is a great article. With age, I have found myself less worried about what others think of me. I believe that my positions at work helped me with the understand that I cannot please everyone all the time including myself. There will always be others trying to be better than you are or making snide comments to make themselves feel better. I simply throw out the outliers since I am my own worst critic.
Bill Cosby said it best, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” My dad gave me the same advice that Chelsea gave you – “Only you can define your successes and failures. ”
Ryan, I am on my way to Kuala Lumpur to help facilitate Toastmasters district leader training. In one of our sessions, Building Healthy Teams, we will be discussing the importance of leaders exibiting vulnerability based trust. With your permission, I would like to use your blog post as an excellent example. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Linda, yes, please feel free to share this article with the District Leadership Teams and hope training goes well. Thank you Linda and travel safe, looking forward to seeing you next week!
The three ‘ C’s- if you did not Cause it to happen – then you can not Control it – and you can not Cure it.
I like that rule! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I really like that quote from Bill Cosby. Thank you for sharing that Kim! Hope you are doing well and we get to see you soon!
Thank you Marc! Let’s keep working hard and make things happen! The joy is ours if we allow it to come our way and not get in the way of caring what others think!
When I got a negative review of a screenplay I wrote, I went on to Amazon and looked at all the one star reviews for The Big Lebowski, which is my favorite movie. Seeing how much unfounded (in my opinion) criticism was heaped on a film that I consider to be brilliant made me feel better, because I saw that no matter how great your work may be, there will always be some people who may not get it, or are just plain mean about something they don’t like.
Great point Shannon! I like this reminder and it is good to think about! Good example and thank you for sharing!
As humans we constantly measure ourselves. Yet the only scale that matters is our OWN scale. “How many followers does someone else have?” is not important because that’s a measurement on _their_ scale. The important measures is “How many followers do _I_ have?” and “Is this best that _I_ can do?”. Let’s suppose that I give a speech. It’s pointless to think about “How would Ryan Avery give that same speech?”. What’s important is “Did I give that speech to the best of _my_ ability?”. As long as we’re doing our best on our own scale, there’s no need to measure ourselves on someone else’s scale.