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The Upside of Comparison

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt

We live in an age where we constantly compare our behind the scenes to everyone’s highlight reel.

We compare our chapter 1 to everyone’s chapter 20.

We compare our startup grind to someone else’s 10 year empire.

We do it through social media, TV ads, movies, photoshopped pictures, and celebrity worship.

It kills our self-esteem, silences our genius, and suffocates our dreams.

It has consumed our way of thinking. It has altered the way we live.

Comparison is a never ending race you will never win. The only destination is the feeling of “Not Enough.” A feeling of emptiness and uselessness. An identity of being less than who you are.

As my brother Trent Shelton likes to say, “We end up living a Filtered life.” An image based lifestyle built around vanity, ego, and aesthetics. That is usually the root of where comparison lives.

Sadly, most people are more focused on looking good than actually being good.

The process of building a perfect public image has destroyed our own self-image. We are so busy chasing another person’s approval that we lose ourselves in the process.

We chase their definition of success instead of creating our own. We channel all of our energy into impressing others instead of impacting others. It is a vicious cycle that has led to dramatic spikes in anxiety, depression, body image issues, and a lack of self-worth. Dare I even say, suicide. No one feels like they are “ENOUGH.” And we remind ourselves of that ugly lie everyday. It is a lie that has immersed our society and built a dark cloud over our generations' future.

Where does all this come from? Our need for status. Our disturbing habit of comparing ourselves to others.

Is it all just ego?

After all, if we were all born to be different, then why are we all trying to be the same.

In a world full of copies, why is it so hard to be original?

These are questions we should ask ourselves daily. These are the questions that we should challenge our thinking in hopes that we embrace everything that makes us so unique.

You have the 7 deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. But “Comparison”is the 8th deadliest sin that no one mentions. It’s the unlisted sin that is destroying the modern world.

Comparison is a well dressed insult to our creator. Basically, saying, “You didn’t make me good enough, so I plan on trying to be someone else. You clearly spent more time making them than you did me.”

What a foolish way to think. Wouldn’t you agree?

Now the title of this article is “The Truth of Comparison,” and I just made a compelling case on why “Comparison.” is the root of all evil.

But comparison is not all doom and gloom. It can be used for the good. In fact, I believe that “Comparison” can be an insanely positive force in your life and I am about to make my case for it.

Comparison is a race you will never win unless you use it for the right type of fuel and the right type of driver. Those two factors give you a fighting chance. If you have those two things, you will always win the race of life.

You see, most people use comparison as a reminder of what they can’t do, but they should use it as a reminder of what they can do.

Comparison shouldn’t silence your greatness, it should awaken the beast inside of you. The sleeping giant who has been hibernating for the last 5 years.

Do not use comparison as a tool to be intimidated by others. Use it as a tool to be inspired by others.

Let me explain how you do that with a couple simple questions.

Question one: Who are you comparing yourself to?

Is it a person in your inner circle? A college rival? A high school nemesis? A co-worker who passed you up for a promotion? Is it brother or sister? Your own best friend?

Let me give you some clarity. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. The person you were 3 months ago. The person you were 6 months ago. The person you were a decade ago. Measure yourself against that person.

As the great philosopher Alain De Button once said,

“If you are not embarrassed by the person you were last year, you aren’t learning enough.”

Your only competition is “YOU.” The more you adopt that philosophy, the more free you will become. You will stop feeling the stress of trying to be better than everyone else. Trying to have more than everyone else.

You will only chase the only person that matters, the greatest version of yourself. And that person will never be caught. He or she is a moving target. A ghost. Someone who will continue to evolve and build a greater legend with each passing year. Their greatness is only limited by how much you try to chase them. And your life will reflect that.

If you continue to chase someone else’s greatness, the “Future You” will never grow to what it can be. And it’s all because you are chasing the wrong target.

Never play the game of You. vs. Them.

Always play the game of You vs. You.

In the end, it’s the only competition that matters.

Question 2: “Who has done more with less?”

This is the exact question I ask myself when I start to drink the poison of self-pity. When I start to feel the toxicity of not feeling “enough.” It is a question that breeds humility and responsibility in my soul.

I asked myself,

Who has achieved success in business without funding?

Who has dominated sports without the physical gifts?

Who has become an elite professional or artist without formal training?

Who has endured torture and addiction and still found a way to rise up?

Who was born out of poverty and pain and ended up triumphant.

Who started their dream after 40 or even 50 years old and found a way to get it done?

Who has done more with less?

Who are the people who have found a way out despite all the odds. Despite the lack of resources. Despite the lack of guidance. Despite the lack of genetics.

Then I ask myself,

Do we not all bleed the same?

Do we not breathe the same air?

Have the same beating heart?

Then why am I not getting things done at the level that I am capable of? Clearly, it can be done. It has been proven by people who have done far more than me, but have less in terms of physical gifts and material resources.

A couple of people who come to mind are:

  • Roman Ambromavich - Billionaire Tycoon and Chelsea Football owner who was born into poverty and orphaned from age 2.

  • Do Won Chang - Fashion disruptor and businessman. The Founder of Forever 21 who worked three jobs as a janitor, gas attendant, and in a coffee shop when he first came to the U.S.

  • Emmanuel Hansel - 16 year old Basketball phenom who only has one arm.

  • Zion Clark - A pro freestyle wrestler who has no legs. He suffered from a genetic disorder called Caudal Syndrome that impairs the development of the lower spine.

And this is just a tip of the iceberg. The list can go on and on of people who endured hell and back to get where they are. And they all started with less, but somehow found a way to gain more. And when I say “MORE” , I mean more for their life. They tapped into an inner genius and an inner strength that we all yearn to attain.

They earned the life they deserve. All because they knew they deserved more. More for themselves.

So why is this so important? Why do you need to know the truth of Comparison?

Why should you use comparison as a tool to build you and not break you?

It is because we will always compare ourselves to someone. It is part of the human condition. You just need to compare yourself to the right person with the right frame of mind.

The man who had no shoes complained until he met the man with no feet. - Confucius

There are a lot of people in this world who have quality shoes on but are too busy comparing themselves to the people who only have Jordan’s on. They are too busy complaining about why they don’t have the new Jays.

Maybe you should try comparing yourself to the people who don’t have any feet at all, but are still finding a way to run faster than you.

It might give you the kick in the ass you need to unleash the greatness you always had inside you since the beginning.

You just needed the right source of “Comparison.”

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