Life is full of comparison. Babies are born, measured, weighed, and immediately placed in comparison with all the other records of babies born, “she’s 7 pounds 2 ounces, which is in the 67% percentile”. Kids are measured at school based on test scores, and parents participate by asking their kids to be more like so-and-so.
As if a life of comparison wasn’t enough, we double down and celebrate competition as one of the highest forms of success. While this works great on the field, it is an awful ingredient for home and work life. When there has to be a winner and a loser, everyone is a threat. Sometimes that includes ourselves.
Ultimately comparison results in two stances in relationships: Inferiority or superiority. Neither of those two kinds of people are enjoyable to be with. It’s either a bottomless hole of pity, or an untouchable pedestal of amazingness. The result: Everyone is looking at someone else to tell them if they’re ok or not.
Want out of the comparison rat race? Celebrate. Rejoice in the successes of others.
Celebrate the gifts, efforts, and attitude of someone (including ourselves), not just the results.
Celebrate them as a human being, not a human doing.
Be a cheerleader, not a critic.
(And try not to compare how well you’re doing celebrating!)
I ran across an article about a chess player (Adam Robinson) who was in a chess development program for teens. He spoke of playing against Bobby Fischer (one of the greatest chess players in history). In playing Bobby, he would often lose. It was this short paragraph that struck me:
“As young teen I played thousands of speed games (each side 5 minutes) with Bobby Fischer, greatest chess player in history. If he got edge early (and my defeat obvious) I’d resign on spot to play again. Stopped me once and said “Don’t resign. You have to learn how to play bad positions.”
Think about what he just said for a moment. Some could argue that chess is just a game, but I think this quote shows that it’s way more than that. “You have to learn how to play bad positions.”
That is the story of life. It’s not always going to go well for you, and if you always resign when it doesn’t go well, you’ll be way better at quitting than you will at succeeding. I love to play golf, and it often happens that when I hit a bad shot (or many bad shots), it takes a lot of emotional and mental work to change the measure of success.
Learning to struggle is just as much a process as it is in learning to win. Most don’t struggle well because they’ve never learned it (and/or never been taught). Don’t resign. Don’t give up. Struggle well. Playing from a bad position can teach us valuable lessons about life that grows our capacity for success. What is it that you’ve been too easily giving up on that you need to struggle with and change your definition of success?