Out With Comparisons, In With Confidence
I recently attended a Business Chicks Breakfast at which Nasty Gal founder and Executive Chairperson Sophia Amoruso spoke. One of the most tweeted and posted quotes of the day was “don’t compare your hustle to their highlight reel”. In the past week, with the announcement that Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, this statement has become even more relevant. This will mean that Amoruso will tumble quickly from the Forbes’ list of Richest Self-Made Women, where her net worth was primarily based on the assumed value of her majority stake in Nasty Gal. It’s a timely lesson for us all. Who knows what is going on in the background for those we compare ourselves to, or aim to emulate.
So why do we do it? Imposter Syndrome, comparison-itis, and many other terms have been coined to describe this phenomenon. When it dents our confidence, and holds us back from maximising our potential we really need to find a way put the comparisons aside and move forward. You can find lots of useful information on how to define, identify and minimise the comparisons – here are my five top tips.
1. Be clear on your own definition of success
I think it is important to be able to clearly articulate our own definition of success. Our values and priorities are the foundations for this so it makes sense to understand those first. If we have clear objectives and know how we will measure success it becomes easier to focus on that, rather than the apparent “success” of another person. Let’s march to the beat of our own drum.
2. Reflect on your progress
Once the way forward is clear we need to measure and celebrate progress. Make sure you stop to celebrate the little wins along the way, and of course the big wins at the end! Don’t head straight from one goal or task to another without reflecting on your progress. Notice the real, relevant steps you are taking towards your version of success.
3. Remember how far you’ve come
When you start to question your right to be heard, to be seen, to speak on a subject you may need to reflect on how far you’ve actually come. Think of all the things you have achieved in your professional and personal life. How many times did you get back up when you fell down? How many times were you in the right place at the right time, helping a friend or colleague? What skills, knowledge and experience have you gained along your individual journey? To quote the wonderfully quotable Dr Seuss “There is no one alive who is Youer than You”!
Many people keep a folder, or a scrapbook, or a vision board with memories of what they have achieved and the positive feedback they have received from others. Reflecting on this when your resolve waivers is a great way to build up your confidence.
4. Remain curious
How different would we feel if we treated slip-ups and minor speed bumps as learning opportunities, rather than insurmountable barriers to ever achieving competence? A learning mindset and a sense of curiosity will allow us to think about our challenges in a different way. We can then build resilience and maximise progress.
5. Surround yourself with fans
Not in a “pop star groupies” kind of way, but simply make sure the people around you are supportive and honest in their feedback. We need a cheer squad and mentors. People who can point out our unique skills and attributes, as well as those who can challenge us to be better in a way that doesn’t put a dint in our carefully carved out confidence. Listen to the feedback and acknowledge the compliments.
We know ourselves from the inside but we only know others from the outside. This is clearly not an accurate comparison so let’s change our perspective and focus. Set your own unique success agenda and celebrate progress along the way.
About the Author
Caroline McGuire is a Coach and HR Consultant specialising in maximising potential for individuals both personally and within the workplace. Caroline is passionate about supporting individuals through specialised mentoring and coaching. Follow Caroline on Twitter @caro_mcguire or @clariti_consult or link to her website, LinkedIn or Facebook pages for Clariti Consulting.