We all face challenges. Each and everyday presents a new one. Sometimes they are small ones and sometimes they are giant-sized-man-eating-zombie-robot kind of challenges. Ok that might be a little far-fetched but it sure did roll off the tongue kind of nice, but you get the picture. Our response to those challenges gives us a starting point and a pretty good definition of the word character.
Phrases like “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” are used to inspire us, but mostly come across as ridiculous platitudes from those who say them, because clearly they haven’t had to face the same kind of challenges that you and I have. (at least that’s what we judge anyway)
And recently, I had a conversation with someone who blew me away. Within the first few sips of my warm tasty beverage, he admitted that his life has been relatively easy. He had always had a good job that paid well, his marriage and family never presented much conflict, and frankly never experienced any needs that weren’t met.
I nearly spit out my drink!
My first thought, was “man, how awesome is it that this person acknowledges this,” and then my second thought was “man, I wish I could say that!”
That’s immediately when the trap door opened and I fell right in.
I have struggled more with comparing myself to other people and their stories of success and failure, than any other challenge in my life. In different seasons, it’s been completely debilitating.
Comparison will steal from you
As a kid in school, I used to get in a bit of trouble, especially early on. Everything came easy to me, and the teacher would never move fast enough. After being put in all the advanced classes they had, I still found myself pretty much bored.
Learning new things, and understanding how things worked, have always come easy to me so at 15, I was the youngest kid ever accepted into Compaq’s (now HP) internship program.
Even as an adult, if something needs to be fixed, I can fix it, or if something needs to be built or done, I’m your guy.
What’s awesome about that is, it’s created in me, an insatiable desire to learn and continue to grow. I’m a student of business, culture, life, technology, and just about anything else you can think of.
But the dark side of that has created in me a nasty comparison monster.
And the truth is the best way to lose your voice is to compare it to someone else’s [I'd love it if you would tweet that]
I’d love to sit here and tell a before and after story for you, but that would be dishonest. While I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth in this area, it is something that I have to constantly keep in check. The good news is that trap door has become easier to see, which allows for me to avoid it more frequently.
A trigger for my growth recently came from hearing Jon Acuff talk about not comparing my beginning to someone else’s middle or end.
That was tremendously powerful for me to allow to take root.
So how do we avoid it?
Avoiding the trap door of comparison is easier said than done, but here are a couple of the things I’ve done that have helped me.
- Stay connected to your community. Comparison loves isolation. They are distant cousins and love when you give them reason to get together and have a blast wrecking your thought life.
- Give a few people permission to remind you of who you are. This might be hard at first, but over time, when you allow people to speak into your being, it’s amazing what you’ll see happen.
- Believe that God has you right where you are. There is rest to be found in this place. I challenge you to experience it.
Creating the Awesome in life, church, business or whatever project you’re engaged in, will be sabotaged if you allow comparison to overtake you like it used to for me.
The most important thing to know is that we must learn from the experiences of others but not compare them with our own.
Do you struggle with comparison? What have done that has helped you and could help the rest of us as well?
Share your thoughts below!