There’s an uncomfortable truth about being human that none of us like to admit. It’s another one of those universal facts that none of us really escape.
Even though we try to pretend we’re above it.
This little habit-of-thought drives almost one hundred percent of our ambition and motivation. In other words, this is a powerful part of our psychology! It’s a mental pattern that dictates how successful we are in life and business.
We’re social creatures. It’s built into us – somewhere in the mammalian brain. Part of our psychological and evolutionary conditioning includes the capacity to play well with others.
We need to be social. Working together as a team has enabled humans to get ahead. As I’ve talked about before, it takes a surplus of food to create art and progress. It also takes a whole tribe to take down a woolly mammoth. Connect the dots.
We need to be social and luckily we’re good at it, but our built in social skills come with a huge price.
While we’re hanging out with others, connecting, hunting mammoths and getting romantic… we’re also comparing. We’ve been making comparisons for thousands of years.
We look at our peers and ask ourselves “am I like them?”
We analyze the size of their cave/tent/home and ask ourselves if ours is as good. We wonder who’s the better mammoth-hunter/arm-wrestler. We wonder who’s better looking.
This constant social comparison is just a way of life. It’s been going on so long we’ve created universal maxims around it. Keeping up with the Joneses, in some way, is a part of everyone’s life.
When we fast forward up the evolutionary spiral from our mammoth chasing ancestors, we arrive at the peak of human potential: The Entrepreneur!
Entrepreneurs can be the most enlightened, forward-thinking open minded rockstars imaginable. However, they’re just as susceptible to social comparison as their knuckle-dragging ancestors.
“Is she more successful than me?”
“Is his business model better than mine?”
“Are these other people making this s*** up as much as I am? Are they as afraid“
The questions might have evolved considerably, but the need for comparison remains the same.
We meter the performance of others as a yard stick for our own achievement.
Our perception of our success is dictated by the comparisons we make with our peers.
Shocking, right? For those of us who pride ourselves on our individualism and unconventional thinking, this is a truth we’d rather not face. Don’t waste time asking yourself (or me!) if you can transcend social comparison. It’s impossible.
I say embrace it.
The most common symptom of an under-performing entrepreneur is complacency. Mixed with pangs of rampant ambition that tend to fizzle out and go nowhere. Sound familiar? This is the psychology of an entrepreneur making hopeless social comparisons.
Remember that best friend of yours from high school, who you always thought would be your partner in crime forever? You guys were going to take over the world, right?
Until you started kicking ass and they started being lazy. Until your ambition made it seem like you had nothing in common anymore. Until you stopped really being friends.
Now, I’ll bet it gives you a secret rush of satisfaction to think of where they ended up and where you did. You’re doing better. Make that comparison and even though you’ll say things like “I feel sorry for him”… deep down, you feel like a rockstar.
Now compare yourself to your biggest business hero. Pick a Richard Branson type of entrepreneur. Go look them up in wikipedia and find out what they were doing when they were your age.
How do you feel now?
Notice how a simple change of comparison has the power to radically alter your attitude?
Social comparison can take you from Rockstar to Trying Harder faster than you can say “I’m-not-good-enough”!
This is a good thing.
Ever heard the axiom that the average income of your circle of friends will dictate your own? Social comparison is the psychological explanation. Hang out with millionaires and pretty soon, you’ll make millions. It’s a fact. The hunger that the comparison creates will ignite the drive you need to achieve those results.
Likewise, if you spend your time measuring yourself against the people you’ve left behind in your dust trail… you’re quickly going to run out of steam.
The latter is dangerous, because it’s so seductive. It feels good to look back on where you came from and say “Imagine if they could see me now!”
My elementary school teachers left me with the distinct belief that I was destined to become a screw-up. If only they could see me now.
It’s a great feeling, just to imagine that. However, it isn’t a motivating feeling. Thinking about that makes me want to stretch, put my feet up and pour myself a drink. Well DONE Peter… you deserve it!
Then, I think about the awesome people I’ve connected with, my clients making millions changing the world and my tycoon business heros. I realize I’ve got a lot to do.
Somewhere, deep inside, a pilot light sparks. Motivation spreads like wild fire.
You’re making social comparisons whether you like it or not. It’s happening dozens of times a day. It’s time to start making these comparisons work for you.
The point of this post is simply to ask:
Who are you making comparisons with?
Have your comparisons been making your hungry… or complacent?
Who could you be using as a more empowering yard stick for your success?
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below this post…