“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.” — Benjamin Franklin
No! Just kidding. People are still looking forward toward the New Year and evaluating themselves towards the goal of self-improvement. Aren’t you?
Towards that end I’ve noticed a lot of free advice flying around in places like Face Book saying “Don’t compare yourself with others.”
Yes, that sounds right at first glance, doesn’t it? After all, we are unique individuals and our self worth should not be dependent on being better than other people. If we can’t love ourselves unconditionally, then who is going to?
But on the other hand, what better measuring stick to use to keep us motivated towards improvement?
Competition is a great motivator. Tony Robbins used to say that the Latin root of the word compete means, “to conspire together.” That when we “compete” we are “conspiring together” so that each of us gets to be all we can be. So if you are going to beat me in this race or tennis match, you will have to play your best and be in your best shape. And so will I if I am to prevail over you. Thus we both win in that we both become the best we can be.
That being said, I like the Ericksonian approach, which is to allow for a “Both/And” awareness. I will compare myself to others and I will not compare myself to others simultaneously.
I will continue to hold myself to the goal of continued improvement while also appreciating being where I am right now. Isn’t it nice to know you can enjoy both at the same time?