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One of the executives whom I am coaching inevitably compared himself with others- often, seemingly, to his disadvantage. ABC had a better title, XYZ had a better house, LMN had more reasonable customers etc. In his mind, the people he compared himself with had ” advantages” which he did not enjoy. On the face of it, while this may partly be true, it did not justify his feeling of being less effective or successful as them.

Some days ago, I had a post titled ” 7 Steps To Feeling Good “. One of the points in this list was: Make valid comparisons: It is natural to compare your self with others who you feel may have succeeded more than you. Make these comparisons with care. Don’t compare yourself with others in vastly different circumstances. These comparisons are a waste of time and energy. Compare yourself, if you have to, with others like you.

It was with considerable interest, therfore, that I read this article in Slow Leadership titled “Comparison Addiction Becoming A Serious Disease”. I asked my young friend to read and understand the spirit of this article.

As I see ever so many people around me fall prey to this addiction- both in their personal as well as professional lives- here are a few points I discussed with the executive I was coaching:-

  • As they say, compare “apples with apples”. Because of unique personal characteristics and varying situations, seldom, if ever , can there be a perfectly comparable situation.
  • Guarding against comparison addiction does not mean becoming less ambitious or reducing our need to succeed.
  • While comparisons are inevitable, take into account a more holistic picture. Someone may have more money than you, but less happiness. Another may have more worldly belongings by way of physical assets but not the health to enjoy what he has – and so on.
  • Setting your own career and life goals and working towards them makes more sense than merely seeing what others have or do not have.

So do keep an eye open for the “comparison trap”. Excuse me: did I hear you say that your colleague in the 5th floor could do this more easily than you?

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This is the 149 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success