Why comparison matters – and how you can transform it

Why comparison matters – and how you can transform it

Since launching Beyond Compare, Tanya and I have been talking to a lot of people about comparison – why it matters, and how we go about transforming it.

Maybe all this comparison talk resonates immediately with you, or maybe it all seems a little abstract. So today, we want to share a little more about why we think compulsive comparison is a stumbling block for so many – as well as the framework we’ve developed for considering how comparison works.

I’m grateful to Tanya for writing this post and sharing it with me to post here. It summarizes our work beautifully. If you choose to share this piece, please be sure to give her credit.

Why Comparison Matters

In our extensive (professional AND – ahem – personal) research, we have come to understand that comparison tops pretty much any other Big Bad Beastie that gets in the way of our progress (again…professional AND personal).

Google “quotes about comparison” the next time you have a spare hour to kill to see just how ubiquitous it is.

When we are invited to do interviews about comparison, the invites are typically framed as “the #1 issue my listeners are grappling with.” It affects SO MANY OF US. (And while it affects each of us differently, if we’re being honest, most of us have been brought to our knees by its force on occasion.)

If you allow it to, Beyond Compare will help you to see where comparison may be…

  • stopping you from creating what you want;
  • preventing you from activating your calling;
  • making you feel (and play) small for fear of projections;
  • keeping you from expressing yourself fully; and
  • causing you to disown your power (and hand it over to others).

It matters. Oh, how it matters. Only YOU can say for yourself just how much it matters –  personally and professionally.

How You Can Transform It

In our research, we have also come to understand comparison as a three-dimensional structure. On the one plane, we compare up (looking up to others in a way that “others” us from them) and we compare down (judging and disdaining others in a way that, you guessed it, “others” us from them).

On the other plane, we compare ourselves to others AND we experience others comparing themselves to us. Up or down. Whether we’ve been put on a pedestal or are judged harshly, the impact of “othering” once again endures.

So that’s the framework. It looks like this:

Beyond Compare - The Comparison Matrix

The big idea behind the work we’ve poured into the program is to offer real and substantive tools that move us from Disdain to Evaluation and from Hero-Worship to Celebration.

Here’s a nibble to whet your appetite for the delicious feast that is Beyond Compare.

Moving From Disdain to Evaluation

Evaluation emerges when we choose to engage critically with someone’s work or behaviour without making them, as a person, wrong. Respectful debate, thoughtful performance assessments, engaging a beloved friend in a difficult conversation: all of these exist in evaluation territory.

If you catch yourself stuck in Disdain territory, try this reflection to shift you into Evaluation:

  • Who do I judge for doing what I’m embarrassed to admit I do, too? What’s the behaviour I’m ashamed of?
  • Who do I judge for behaving in ways I secretly wish I could “get away with”? What do I fear would happen if I behaved that way, too?
  • Where are the qualities that I disdain holding me back?
  • What could I do if I gave myself permission to embody those qualities?

Of course, this work has many more layers, but this is a place to start.

Moving from Hero-Worship to Celebration

To understand Celebration, think of a beloved teacher, close ally, or dear friend – anyone who inspires us to say, “I am better because of you.” They help us face and overcome challenges, by showing us our own strengths.

The energy here is a kind of curious equanimity: We notice difference and similarity, and make the most of both. We don’t value a person more or less because they possess a particular trait; we simply appreciate it, and ask how we can celebrate it, while also celebrating our selves.

To shift from Hero-Worship to Celebration, consider the following questions:

  • Who do I admire?
  • What do I admire about them?
  • When I consider these people, do I notice any common threads? If so, what are they?
  • Now, experiment with looking at those strengths and gifts, and telling yourself that you have the full potential to embody them. What would it look like if you allowed those parts of yourself more room?

What did you discover through these two exercises?

You may have noticed that the “fix,” in each case, is to quit focusing your energy on the other person and direct it squarely towards yourself. While it may feel like it’s the other person evoking a response in you, the reality is that your response is entirely within your control. You can choose Hero-Worship or Celebration, Disdain or Evaluation.

The freedom that comes from choice is the reason we created Beyond Compare. The freedom to create. The freedom to follow your own calling. The freedom to own your authority and succeed on your own terms.

Because we can taste that freedom. And we want it for you.

You too? Grab your copy of Beyond Compare here.

P.S. On Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 10:30 am PST / 1:30 pm EST, Tanya & I will be hosting a live Beyond Compare Kickstart Session. We’ll explore what comparison can teach you, discuss what lies beyond compare, and answer your questions – live. Get on the Beyond Compare list for full details (and your free copy of the Starter Kit).