When Steven Speilberg was 16 he almost quit his filmmaking career. In a 2017 HBO documentary he shared how he felt after seeing David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia." “When the film was over, I wanted to not be a director anymore because the bar was too high."
Luckily filmmaking was so ingrained in Spielberg that he didn't latch on to the moments he questioned his confidence, and he chose to pursue his career despite the comparison.
But not everyone so easily dismisses the discouragement that stems from comparison.
One of the biggest distractions that pushes us off our career path is taking our eyes off the road and peering into adjacent lanes. Loosing our focus often begins with comparison with peers, evolves into jealousy, and results in losing focus.
Learn to identify the pattern that hinders the road to success so you can spot it in yourself before it occurs. You can then focus on fulfilling your goals of becoming whatever you aspire to be.
How the Process Begins
The unraveling process could begin on social media or in the workplace. You see someone doing way better than you: they earn higher returns, bigger numbers, and more people are flocking towards them. You start measuring your success against theirs. You start feeling like you don’t measure in comparison. The focus on your own success wanes because you are so fixated on someone else’s.
Where Comparison Takes You
You start feeling jealous. Why can’t it be you? You're both in the same field doing the same work. Why should they be there and not you? Your productivity lessens and you grow feelings of never being good enough. You start feeling resentful towards their wins. It should be you, not them—the discouraging voices inside you say. At this stage, you’ve lost your focus completely.
What You Lose
You start losing your self confidence. You start thinking about what you could possibly offer while your colleague is in the spotlight. Why even try if you will never be good enough or “at their level?" You stop believing in yourself because you are so focused on someone else. At this stage this pattern starts hurting your career because you take a step back and start trying less.
Where You Go
You often end up in despair. You’ll never be good enough, so why even try? These false beliefs start flooding your mind until you believe them, and you start living these beliefs by losing your productivity, your ambition, and your drive. You are not only off-focus— you’re completely off track. Success is nowhere to be found because you are so focused on measuring yourself against someone else.
What You Become
You end up becoming overly competitive. If you're not the type to go into despair, you might go into competitive overdrive. But isn’t being competitive healthy? Not if your focus is to outrival your competition. Your goals should be the drive and focus behind your ambition, not beating your competitor.
Keep your focus. Whether it's affirmations, revisiting your goals daily, or calling someone for support, find what you need to do to ground yourself and stay on track . Most of us have been here before. But the path of comparison is the quickest route to destroy not only your career path, but also your success. You can’t be successful focusing on someone else.
So focus on what you can offer. And don’t fall into scarcity mindset. There is more than enough success to go around, and you have to believe it’s not limited to the elite. Take a break from social media if needed, and ground yourself in knowing who you are and what you can offer.