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Comparison Will Steal Your Joy

Updated: Apr 4

A little background first...

Last year I was fortunate enough to sell my business. It was time, God lighted the way, and the right buyer emerged. This allowed me to focus on a new endeavor, spend more time with my children (who like others, are growing up too quickly), and pursue a few other interests as well. I say all this not to brag, but instead to set the stage for what comes next in this story.

Last week I attended a networking event. Friends of mine were speaking with another business owner, and I politely joined the conversation. They were talking about something I enjoy: running. I listened to the conversation, made comments, asked questions, and found myself feeling a little self-conscious and vulnerable. Not exactly a delightful feeling. The individual I was speaking with enjoyed running as well. In fact, he was very accomplished, doing longer distances than I ever had. As the conversation moved to business, an inferior feeling came over me there as well. I knew that my business had never attained the revenues or growth his had, and for some reason this bothered me at that moment. These thoughts were all going through my head even though as I stood there, I could do so because I had successfully built and sold a business, and therefore had all the schedule freedom that I could possibly want.

The question for this post: Why do we do this to ourselves?

I pause with that question because it deserves deep consideration. So often in life we are sitting in the moment, as happy as we could possibly be, until we start to compare ourselves with someone or something else. In this case for me it was a business colleague, but someone who couldn’t have cared less about how our businesses may have compared. This situation was 100% solely in my head. We do this to ourselves so often though. We are happy with what we have until we come across someone that has something we think is better. At that moment, we start to think less of ourselves as our internal voice convinces us that the other person is in a better situation. Is that really true though? This is the question we need to ask.

Comparison for the sake of needed improvement has its place. In fact, it often is what drives innovation and prosperity. However, comparison for the sake of personal greed is truly evil. It steals our joy, and worse yet it’s a thief that we let in our own house. We have total control over the thought processes, we just need to exercise that control. Controlling those unwarranted thoughts is something that provides two huge benefits, namely contentment and joy.

I feel a little vulnerable sharing this, but I do so because if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Getting back to the story... later that day I realized what had happened to me mentally, and that it was of my own doing. No one in that conversation attempted to make me feel any “less than” anyone else. It was something that creeped up on me internally, but that I should have shut down within moments. I would have avoided that empty feeling of jealousy that remained with me for several hours. Comparing myself to others made no sense. My life is good for me, and that is what matters.

The next time you find yourself comparing your business or your life with anyone, yes anyone, ask yourself if the comparison serves a worthy purpose. If it’s truly in the interests of improvement, then yes, it is beneficial. Otherwise though, stop the thought process, reclaim your joy, and move on. Life is too short and valuable to waste time on internal negativity.

If I can be of assistance, please reach out anytime. As always, I wish you the best in your business and in life overall.

Mark Goldman



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