Idea Six: The Dangers of Comparison

The ideas in this program are designed to help build a better sense of personal understanding and unity between us and our interpersonal relationships. The point of this is to allow for the variations of personalities, environments and situations. Not all things are the same. Not all people are the same either but rather than fight against the grain; the ideas in this program are to help create a path of least resistance.

However, and more importantly, the idea to “Be the Better and Embrace the Culture” is a social design to help fuel a better sense of both workplace and personal cohesion. The idea is to promote synergy by focusing on the aspects of wellness, mental fitness and psychological safety. To be clear, these ideas are made to be simple and easy to follow. The ideas are designed in a relatable sense to encourage new ways of thinking, offer an understanding of ourselves as well as each other and to help boost a better sense of self-efficacy.

To keep this simple, I use past experiences and lessons that are extremely common and yet, these commonalities are seldom mentioned. I use these lessons to illustrate a lighthearted and understandable narrative as a means to create a mutual sense of understanding. Therefore, by simplifying these ideas as a basic prose, this program becomes more of an idea of encouragement than a training or educational text. 

While mentioning wellness or psychological safety, it is important to begin this at the core, which is us.  We are the core. We are always the square root to our own equation, which means self-care is essential. This also means that the lack thereof can be critical. Therefore, self-care is not only essential to us; self-care is essential to our teams, groups and interpersonal connections. 

Some of our personal snags are also linked to our problematic thinking; and therefore, as we feed them, our problematic thoughts tend to grow. As a coach, I notice a common trend in personal struggles. This is the element of comparison and the debilitating effects of its process. As a coach, I have seen people professionally collapse inward and fail to reach their deadlines, quotas and their best potentials due to misdirected focus.

One thing that motivates is control; however, the lack of control motivates us differently. For many, the lack of control creates anxiety and stressor related difficulties. Symptoms like this can turn simple projects into difficult tasks. Again, I say this is only a symptom. Not a problem.

It is clear that people are comfortable when they are in control; however, it is also clear that people are uncomfortable when they are not in control. Furthermore, people are most uncomfortable when trying to control something beyond their means. Hence, this is a call for psychological safety.

There is the obvious that is beyond alteration; items such as time, space, people, places and things are mainly beyond our control. And try as we might, no one can control these things. Certainly, no one can control what others do, receive, give away or trade. 

For example, there are sales teams who argue amongst themselves because God forbid another salesperson receives more help, more leads or personal support. Envy ensues. Resentment follows. Of course there are the claims of favoritism or nepotism. There are the internal idea that can distract us. There are the struggles with rejective thinking that can promote stress or shame-based thinking — not to mention, there’s the self-defeating ideas of unworthiness and the questions of personal value. This can trigger personal complications with imposter syndrome, trigger depressive thinking, and lead us away from performing at our best.

There are hourly workers and subordinate staffers who find themselves in comparison with one another’s hourly wages and overtime — and so long as this exists, then jealousy persists and thus dividing the crew by ways of pride, ego and envy. I can say that I have seen both of the above examples, firsthand, up-close, and certainly personal. I have worked in hostile environments where diversity was unaccepted instead of celebrated. I have seen the damages of teams that hardly worked together as coworkers, let alone as teammates. And why? The answer is simple. Look at the focus

In the long run, comparison degrades our personal viewpoint. This degrades our thinking and sections people in the columns of better than, less than, more than and less of. This creates a realm of separatism. This promotes slander and can lead to hostile work environments.

Rather than celebrating diversity or equity and inclusion, this promotes isolationism, exclusion and promotes cliques and a sub-government culture of slander and animosity. This feeds the gossip mills and the rumor factories but more; this is a prime example of catabolic energy and therefore, draining of our best interests.

In a perfect world, all things would be equal and everyone would get along. In a perfect world cultural or personal differences would be cherished and welcomed in all areas. In a perfect world, people could work together without issue. More aptly, in a perfect world, people would not lose themselves to the insecurity or worry of comparison.

In the face of personal recovery and wellness, it is important to focus on the energy of our output, not our outcome. Remember; we are in the effort business. Not the outcome business. Outcomes are beyond our control; hence, our efforts to change the unchangeable does nothing more than create the cesspool of emotional quicksand. Other people’s actions, jobs, habits and behaviors are beyond our control and only a distraction.

Rather than compare, what would happen if we adjusted our focus to set benchmarks and goals instead of looking at people through the eyes of comparison or animosity? Rather than compare and focus on unalterable facts; what would it look like if we provided a little clarity for ourselves and focused on our tasks at hand?

There is a famous prayer known as the serenity prayer, which in this case, I will remove the religiousness and stick with the point: 

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

Serenity: The state or quality of being serene, calm, at peace or balanced.

Serenity, peace, balance are all very interesting words.

In the earlier paragraphs, I explained some of the commonalities with comparisons and the aftermath of trying to control the uncontrollable; and so long as we try to control what’s outside of our ability, we find ourselves drawing in the cesspool of emotional quicksand. We waste valuable time and energy. We mute the brighter aspects of our talents and skill sets. Secondly, we find ourselves bitter and caught in the waves of the chemical changes that are brought on by emotion. Our attitudes begin to mirror our thinking and next, we tend to jump to conclusions and prepare for imaginary arguments that don’t have to take place.

Comparison often leads us to misled thinking and rather than focus on our best efforts or understand our strengths; this tends to degrade us as well as our focus and leads us down the pathways of internal rejection.

Fortunately, there are ways to counteract this. By learning to replace thought with action, we can provide a new chemistry to our thinking. We can work through our thinking and rather than submit to the catabolic energy that drowns us in quicksand we can encourage ourselves. We can promote anabolic energies that are feeding and promotional. 

Being the Better and Embracing the Culture is a personal scale in which we balance ourselves. This is our way to find our best level of cohesion. This improves self, groups, teams, the workforce and even companies.

So here’s your R.O.I.:

Find balance. Achieve your goals. Focus on the tasks in front of you rather than the tasks of someone else and when all else fails, look for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and find the wisdom to know the difference. Do this and see what happens to your level of productivity.

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