How do we stack up? It’s a question we seem to constantly ask ourselves. Our brains want to know how we are measuring up compared to everyone else. Do we matter more than other people matter? Is our position more valuable than another person’s position? People can spend their entire lives trying to determine where they stack on the proverbial totem pole of the human race, however, those who do will one day be sorely disappointed to find out that there was no ranking measurement against anyone else at all. There was only the assessment of how their life measured up to their own personal potential.
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” –Bill Gates
When we compare ourselves to someone else we will always have to rank ourselves as either superior or inferior to that other person, and neither of those assessments will ever be factually accurate. Admittedly, a person can be better than someone else at one particular task, but that doesn’t qualify them as superior. Attempting to gauge how we are doing in comparison to someone else will never lead to an accurate evaluation because no two people are ever exactly alike. We come from different backgrounds. We possess different talents. We have different strengths and weaknesses. So how then would it ever be a fair assessment to hold ourselves and any other person to the exact same measuring stick?
In life there is no “superior” or “inferior” and there is no measuring stick that ranks us in order of importance. Everyone is exactly equal in importance to this world and it isn’t possible for any one person to become more or less important than any other person. So then what do we aim for? How do determine excellence? How do we become “the best”?
We start by redefining what we believe “the best” is. We start by recognizing that being “the best” is something relating to you, and only you. It’s about achieving YOUR best, ranked solely against yourself and your own past performance and your own future potential.
Some exercises that can help us do this are:
Look at your own natural talents and abilities and write them down in a list. Then ask yourself, how you can further develop those talents and abilities? How can you hone them to make them the very best they can be? In addition, ask yourself what natural gifts you have that you have not yet begun to grow and develop? Write those down too. Recognize that becoming your very best will take an ongoing effort of improving the talents you already have, discovering your gifts still waiting to be developed, and continuously looking for undiscovered gifts and talents yet to rise to the surface.
Make a list of the qualities we don’t like about ourselves that we would like to change. For example, are we impatient, are we judgmental, are we lazy, etc. Write these qualities down and then set goals to help you change these into qualities you can be proud of.
Recognize that every day we are the result of every past decision we have made up to that point. And tomorrow we are going to be the direct result of the decisions we are making today. So if we are doing things today that will make us better tomorrow, and we continue that pattern day after day, we are always going to be in the process of becoming our best. One way to do this is to ask yourself, “Where are the decisions I am making today going to lead me?” and, “Am I better today than I was yesterday?” and, “Do I have goals in place to help improve me tomorrow?
Coming to recognize every gift and talent we possess within us takes a lifetime. Many of them surface during times of trial and difficult experience. Many surface as we gain more wisdom. Let’s face it, we will likely never know everything we are truly capable of until life forces us to prove it to ourselves.
It is often said that “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.” We have to remind ourselves daily that our goal isn’t to be better than anyone else. Our ultimate goal is to be better today than we were yesterday, and have a plan in place to help us become even better tomorrow.