Lord knows I’m an ambitious guy. Heck, if you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty damn ambitious for yourself. We live in a society today full of dreamers and doers. We aren’t held back by the obstacle of “how” and instead, we try, we do, and figure things out along the way.
As much as you’re doing – you can always, always be doing more. But I’m not saying you should. Quite the contrary, I’m actually saying maybe you shouldn’t.
We have the innate ability (to which I blame a lot on social media and constantly being flooded with the awesome, incredible, and/or otherwise stupendous things other people are doing) – to compare ourselves, in everything we do – to what someone else is doing or has done.
We constantly compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. Our middle to someone else’s end. And when you do that – you’ll find that you’re never, ever satisfied. You’ll never, ever be good enough. You’ll always struggle to celebrate your accomplishments.
Jon Acuff spoke about this at the recent Quitter Conference, and summed up the idea perfectly in an article he wrote last year for Michael Hyatt:
“One of the great temptations for us as leaders and dreamers is to compare the start of our new adventures to the middle of someone else’s. You work on your first book and pick up Max Lucado’s 14th book and say, “Mine isn’t as good.” You post your first blog post and look at Michael Hyatt’s 100th and think, “Mine is nowhere near as great as that.” You give your first speech and watch Ken Robinson’s 1,000th at TED and think, “I’m not great like that.” It’s true. You’re not. Yet.”
The picture at the top of the post is not my collection of race medals. It’s my friend Chanthana’s wall of medals. Pretty damn impressive, right? She’s awesome and I’m super jealous of all those shiny medals.
Earlier this week I took a picture and posted it to Instagram. I have three medals. Now, granted, two of them were for completing marathons and another was for a half – all in 2012 – but, I saw Chanthana’s picture and immediately thought, “Wow, I suck”.
I do the same thing when I hear about a friend landing a $100,000 client. Or see someone launch a product idea that I’ve been mulling over in my head for years but never could figure out how to put it out there.
But I’ve learned to check myself before I wreck myself. I have to – you have to – or you’ll absolutely drive yourself insane. I’ve learned to celebrate and appreciate the accomplishments of my friends and peers – to take what they’re doing and what they’ve done and use it as motivation – or in some cases simply say, “That’s awesome for them, but just not for me”.
Wherever you are in life with whatever you’re doing – you’re going to be ahead of some and behind others. That’s okay. Own where you are. Take time to embrace and celebrate that. Continue moving forward.
And never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.