Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Stay in your own lane.
Keep looking straight ahead.
Don’t look at what others are doing.
That’s the advice we hear all the time to avoid the comparison trap. And there is some wisdom in that advice. Looking at other people to see how you measure up can kill your inspiration and drain your motivation.
But if you are always head down, looking only at what is in front of you, you are losing valuable opportunities to grow and learn.
So you SHOULD compare yourself to others who are successful, not as a way to measure up, but to learn what they are doing and how you can apply it to what you are doing. Because, let’s face it, they must be doing something right! So instead of pouting about what ISN’T happening for you, see what you can learn from what IS happening for someone else.
Paul encouraged the Philippians to do the same thing. Just after he told them to “press on toward the goal for the prize”, he tells them:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17 (ESV)
So how do you do this without draining your soul? Consider these ideas:
Be careful who you look at
Paul gave the Philippians specific instructions on who they should watch: people who walk according to Paul’s example. That is to say, watch people who are mature in their faith and have similar values as you. You certainly can learn from secular resources, but if you are going to pattern your ministry or business after someone, make sure it is someone who honors God.
Ask God to protect your mind and heart as you study what someone else is doing.
Lord, walk with me as I observe ____________________. Help me see what you’d have me learn from her. Go before and behind me to prevent discouraging and envious thoughts from the enemy. Show me which ideas to use, which to adapt and which to leave alone. And Father, please bless the work of her hands as she seeks to walk in what you have called her to do. Amen.
Take inspiration, but don’t copy
What is she doing that you can implement in your own way? How can you apply what you see to your specific plan? And what things may work for her, but don’t feel right for you? God has given you a unique vision of your dream, so filter what you learn through your vision and make it new and fresh for you.
Stay within your strategy
When you see someone else’s success, it’s tempting to dump everything you were doing and completely change directions. If you have already carefully developed a strategy, look for things that fit in to your plan. You may need to scale things up or down to make them work for you.
If you are still in the strategy development phase, study carefully and add what you learn to your list of ideas to consider. Then implement them as part of an overall plan, not just jumping on whatever hot idea you see.
After you’ve pored over her website, stalked all of her social media and dissected her emails, drop her a note and let her know how much you love what she is doing and what you have learned from her. It will bless her and it may be the beginning of a friendship or mentoring relationship.
Comparing yourself to others does not have to become a depressing, de-motivating pity party. If done prayerfully and with the right attitude, it can be inspiring and energizing as you incorporate fresh ideas that have proven to be effective.
What have you learned from comparing yourself to others? Have you had a breakthrough because you found a successful strategy? Share in the comments!