A wise advisor once told me, “You can never win the comparison game.” That message wasn’t news to me, but I needed to hear it at that moment. My favorite football coach has often said a similar thing to me (and the kids): “Just focus on you!” Both advisors admonished me to keep my focus on the things that I can control and not the noise in the periphery. In those moments when the wise ones were speaking, their life coaching sounded like criticism or a lecture. In retrospect, however, they gifted me nuggets of wisdom mandatory in any successful endeavor.
When my book was published, folks posted comments online. I received congratulatory and celebratory type messages. I also received comments from folks applauding my transparency and concern for building supportive villages. After receiving and reading so many positive comments, I allowed one negative statement to hurt my feelings and make me personally aware of the voice of the cowardice personalities motivated by the anonymity of the online forum. That faceless, nameless individual described my stories as “common.” Why was it that the negativity rang louder than the positivity?
“Common,” you say? Clearly, that individual compared me to something. I had no idea if my commonality rating was based on their own life experiences or if that person was just a hater who hated some part of their own life. I was thankful for my wise advisors who redirected my attention to my calling and my voice. Mama used to say, “Everything ain’t for everybody.” So, I guess my voice was never intended for “the common individual.” Soon I expressed gratitude to “the common individual” for the book sale and the life lesson.
That experience taught me to keep my mind set on the development of my gifts and my voice in order to fulfill my purpose. I learned to use the word “common” to inspire more excellence and greatness from myself. There was nothing “common” about a grown person telling personal stories with candor and humor for the purpose of enriching in the lives of others. It was not “common” for a grown up to openly discuss her flaws, mistakes, hurts, and fears publically with the hope of helping someone else heal a scar.
The only way to “win” the comparison game is to focus on yourself. “Winning” the comparison game mandates an ownership of your strengths and your unique challenges. I “win” every time I deflect the “common” types and use my “common” self to encourage, empower, and enlighten. It is important to be mindful of the haters in your blind spot because they cruise along with the potential to impede your progress. Don’t let the “common” hater slow you down; accelerate and leave them where they belong – in your past.
My hope is that my audience will find advisors who will help them identify when the comparison game is a being played. I want my audience to avoid this deceptive game that comes in the form of comparison to others, comparisons introduced by others, or personal comparisons to a past better self or that imagined perfect self. “Winning” requires presence in the moment with full capacity over the actual you. I encourage my audience to acknowledge the existence of the comparison then flip the negative rhetoric into positive acts of change for yourself and others in your community.