Hey gang, I thought you might enjoy a sneak preview of some of what you’ll find in my upcoming book, The Confidence of a Champion. The following section discusses the difference between comparing and competing and how it can affect your confidence. I hope you enjoy it!
God bless, Tim Marks
Comparing and competing are very similar in that they involve spending a lot of time thinking about how you stack up against another guy. But in the case of comparison, that’s all there is. Comparison tends to devolve into either self-flattery (“Look at how great I am because I’m better than Bob,”) or self-pity (“Look at how terrible I am because I’m worse than Bob.”) Both of these responses involve sitting around and staying the same as you are now. You are either patting your own back or kicking your own butt. Competition goes one critical step further than comparison: you not only think about the other guy, your reflection drives you to take action. Comparison merely says, “I hope the other guy isn’t very good so I can seem better.” Competition says, “I hope the other guy brings his A-game so it forces me to become better.” Comparison says, “Look at where I AM.” Competition says, “Look at where I am GOING.”
Wallowing in comparison will simply beat down our attitude and our activity; we risk feeling discouraged and might stop sharing our talents with the world. We each have our God-given talents, but we don’t need to search very long to find someone who is better than us at a particular talent. For example, I regularly speak in front of business audiences of hundreds and thousands of people. In one sense, you might say I am an accomplished professional speaker. But I am no Zig Ziglar (who went to be with the Lord in November of 2012). He was, in my opinion, the best motivational speaker of all time. He was the Michael Jordan of speaking. But he had a very unique style. I should not try to emulate his style because, unless I was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and lived in Texas I couldn’t do justice to his deep southern drawl. There will always be someone who is better than us at something. God created Zig to be Zig and He created me to be me. Don’t try to copy people; be your own unique version of excellence. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Insist on yourself. Never imitate.” Don’t blindly copy someone else. You are an individual.
Competition helps us strive for greater heights and break through limiting beliefs. If someone else is a champion, it can show us what is possible for us if we apply the same dedication to mastery that the other guy invested. If we can find someone who has conquered a Goliath which we are facing, it can inspire us to believe that we could also succeed. Looking at other people’s success should inspire and motivate you. Maybe I’m just hard-wired that way I can look past how their amazing performance trounced mine. It’s a delicate balance; on one hand, you are okay that they are winning; on the other hand, it needs to bug you enough for you to take action.
Perhaps in the past we might have looked at someone else’s amazing performance and felt we needed to make excuses for why we aren’t competing at their level. We fire up the “excuse making machine” and say things like, “They must have better genetics, etc.” Maybe that’s true. And maybe they also had to overcome a brutally abusive childhood. For everyone who believes the path to success was easy for a champion, I’ll show you a Michael Jordan who got cut from his high school basketball team. If you catch yourself making excuses, you’ve got to “pattern interrupt” (more on that later.) You’ve got to reframe the event in your mind and say instead, “If they overcame those terrible obstacles, I’m going to have a much easier road to success.”
Without proper success thinking, some people look at others at their best and their confidence spirals downward. This depends a lot on how you view your fellow man. You must remember when you see a champion that he has undoubtedly worked harder than others for years. Recognize if someone is farther along the journey than you. If they have been practicing golf for twenty years and you’ve been practicing for twenty days, that’s an unfair comparison. Also, don’t compare the date you both started; compare how many hours of practice you’ve engaged in since then, and the quality of that practice. Maybe you and a buddy have both had a golf membership for ten years. If your friend has been practicing three hours a day, seven days a week for ten years, that’s 10,000 hours of mastery. If you only play one game a month, you just aren’t going to be playing at the same level. You can’t expect to be great without paying the same dues. If I am willing to do what champions did I can be a gold medalist in my sport, my marriage or my business. So get fired up when you see someone performing at a higher level! Rather than wallowing in comparison, a competitive spirit will drive you to improve, as you realize that you can follow the same principles of practice over time.