You know how when someone nearby yawns, you usually end up yawning as well? This unconscious tendency is called “contagious yawning.” Sometimes, a similar phenomenon occurs in the realm of ideas.

As serendipity would have it, on the same day last week two of my favorite bloggers – Stephanie Pollock and Chris Brogan – wrote about something you and I work toward almost every day: Success. While reading their posts, I immediately drew a correlation between financial success and their message of business success. But what also came to mind is something I believe we rarely consider: The price we pay when we chase someone else’s indicators of success.

You may say, “I don’t do that!”

Actually, you do. You pay a price when you occasionally look for success in all the wrong places. This happens each time you compare your success (financial or otherwise) to another person or business. Whenever you and I travel down the rabbit-hole of comparison, it is usually a straight line to disappointment and dissatisfaction. And, it is proof we have lost sight of our own definition of success, what it means to us, and why what we are aiming for is important. Further, it is evidence that we are valuing another person’s story above our own.

Aside from the act of comparing being a never-winning battle (with you on the losing end), the other problem with pegging your success to another person’s (or business) is that what you “see” – aka their results – is just one part of their story.  Plus, when you are in comparison mode you tend to supplant your version of success for someone else’s. In other words, your locus is more externally focused than internally driven.

That said, we all fall prey to the comparison trap from time-to-time. I must admit while reading Stephanie’s and Chris’ piece, I felt a bit convicted because recently I was doing precisely what they warn against and what I counsel my clients not to do.

It is perfectly okay to reference what others do and how for ideas to experiment with, but it is never (ever!) healthy to compare.

So, the next time you realize you’ve traveled down the comparison rabbit-hole, here are three choices you can make to recalibrate and look for success in the right place:

  • Acknowledge what you are doing!

This may sound obvious, but you can’t self-correct if you don’t admit you’re going in a direction that won’t serve you.

  • Celebrate progress.

The comparison bug typically kicks in when you aren’t making the progress you want, at the pace you desire. That’s when looking at someone else’s success shifts from being a point of reference for you and celebration of them; that’s when you are tempted to believe they know a “secret” to which you aren’t privy. The best antidote to this is a walk down memory lane with one goal — to measure how far you’ve come rather than how far you have to go.

  • Go within to reconnect with your “why” factor.

In his leadership book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek deposits that great leaders are great because they begin with the why that lurks behind the work they do. I submit the same is true when it comes to money.

I am in the camp that believes success, like everything in life that is of significance, is an inside-out job. That means you have to get to know your story; so when it comes to money you must be willing to explore your money story. Unfortunately, few people know theirs beyond a superficial awareness; therefore, they can’t truly appreciate what they have, what they do with what they have and why. And, they don’t have a clue how much what they don’t know about their story is costing them.

Any number of things can trigger the comparison trap (e.g., a lost client/job; an unmet personal or professional goal; or simply a “bad” day), but making one or all of the above choices can help you shift your perception so that you don’t linger in that moment of looking for your success in someone else’s accomplishments.

p.s. if you’re curious about the dynamics of your money story and are committed to creating financial success on your own terms, then check out my latest group coaching program – What’s Your Money Story? This six-week program is designed for people ready to learn how separating fact from fiction can increase their wealth. We start June 20th – will you join us? Click here to join the sneak-peak list.

Photo Credit: Flickr, A. Jurina


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