What motivates you to be your best? Who do you use as comparison to push your limits?
In years of competition from academics to business to athletics and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I’ve found the best competition to be the same person every time: Myself.
You always have been and always will be your own best competitor.
Have you ever worked really hard only to look to someone else and be disappointed that your progress was not as advanced as theirs? Was it frustrating? Did it motivate or demotivate you?
If you’re anything like most of us, this experience probably took the wind out of your sails. You think, what’s the point of working so hard if I still can’t be as good as him or her? When it comes to peak performance, we want to avoid frustration at all cost. If we don’t, it may keep us from reaching our full potential.
Comparison is futile
In a world where comparisons happen non-stop, it is difficult to look outside yourself and to ever be content with who you are. There’s always someone who’s a tad bit better.
The only solution is to reach inside and measure against what Warren Buffett calls your own internal yardstick. There is no more accurate measure for comparison than who you were yesterday, last week or last decade, when you were at your best. Or perhaps the person you know you can be, based on your values, purpose and mission.
Nothing useful ever comes from comparison to others. Either you see yourself as better than someone and you get lazy and perhaps arrogant, or you see someone else as better than you and you feel like all your hard work is for naught.
It’s a fool’s game – none of us is inherently above or below the person next to us. We are who we are – not one of us is exactly alike. The only direct and honest comparison is within yourself. Everything else is apples to oranges.
My rule of thumb is that you are only allowed to compare yourself to someone else if their life situation is identical to your own. Good luck finding that match.
And one thing is for sure. No matter how hard you work and how dedicated you are, there will always be someone who can run a little faster, jump a little higher, score a little better or look a little nicer in a swimsuit. And if there’s not, you can bet someone is coming up fast behind you.
So how can you ultimately always win in life? Become your own best competitor.
3 Reasons Why You are Your Own Best Competitor
1. You will always be motivated.
Having an image of your most recent past limits is the perfect thing to push you to the next level. If you ran 7 flights of stairs yesterday, then do 8 today. Who cares if the guy next to you did 15? It doesn’t make a bit of difference. You are a more fit person today than you were yesterday. Your own progress is all you need.
2. You will continuously be your personal best.
If you commit to a slightly higher standard of yourself every day, you will always be at the top of your game. And that game will only get better. But if for some reason you fall off your mark, you will always have the past image of your peak performance to show you what you’re capable of.
When Donald Trump went bankrupt, he was asked how hard it was to become wealthy again. He said the first time was by far the most difficult. Once you’ve done it, you know what’s possible and then it’s just a matter of doing it again. Show yourself what you’re capable of.
3. Your coach will forever be with you.
You’ll never have to complain that your workout or business partners flaked on you or that they are getting too lazy to keep up. He or she will always be at your side and grabbing at your heels to be sure you’re giving it your all. After all, he is inside you, at your core.
So don’t worry about the others. When it comes to progress, they don’t matter anyway. What matters is that we all have our unique dreams, goals and desires. And then taking the actions and building the habits necessary to live those dreams. No one else wants exactly what you want. So why compare yourself to them?
If you make yourself your one and only best competitor, then you will have already won. Your progress will be nothing but fulfilling and it will stack up to achieve even more in the days to come.
Choose your own path and make comparison impossible.
Robert Frost said that taking the road less travelled has made all the difference. It always has and it always will. The path of the crowd is one overflowing with the “who’s better” mentality. If you choose a career that is hyper-competitive and over-saturated where everyone steps on each others’ toes to get to the top, you are going to be forced to compare yourself to others as they will all be doing the same with you. Comparison will be all too easy.
The interesting thing about the road less travelled is that there is often no one else travelling your exact path. You will see people on similar or familiar looking roads but no one exactly over the top of yours. This provides you with limitless inspirations as you see other people’s journeys but makes comparison nearly impossible.
You don’t even have to try to find a life purpose, career or industry where it’s difficult to compare. If you make one choice: to take the road less travelled, you will have no choice but to measure using your internal yardstick. Nothing else will be accurate. You will be your own best competitor and victory will be yours for the taking. The same will be the case for every one of the people wandering their own paths around you.
If you’re going to play the game, pick your competitor wisely and set it up so you can win.
The notion of comparison will transform into inspiration and encouragement. Your own path and competition will inspire you to be the best person you ultimately can be.
Now go on and embrace your competitive side. See where it takes you.
Read more inspiring articles from Scott Dinsmore at Live Your Legend where he is committed to making your life and career a success through “action-based reading”.