Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Don't Compare

Today I wanted to share a concept and a story from a book that I'm working on, with a working title of Live a Rich Life.

As I get more edited, I'll share more. If, after reading today's post you'd like to be notified when the book is completed, please email me at:


and I'll be sure to let you know when the project is complete.

Just as a heads up, this post is a little longer than normal.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt.

Don't Compare

At 4:30 every morning, the alarm goes off. I don’t have to be at work until 7:30, but I (like to??) get up early so I can do workout and have some time to read or write before the day starts.
I’d like to say I jump out of bed, drink 16 ounces of water, and run to the gym. But it’s a struggle, and some mornings, I don’t make it out of bed.

When I do get to the gym, there is a part of me that is simply proud of the fact that I made it.
Waiting for me at the gym, is a guy that makes me feel like a wee little man.
The moment anyone walks in, he yells out across the gym, “MORNING, DOC! How are you brother?” He knows everyone that comes in, and he does cool things like make up nicknames for people and call them brother.
He’s wide awake at 5 AM, and he wears a tank top.
And he doesn’t look weird in it.
One day I’m going to wear a tank top and look like that guy.
This guy is so fit. He’s actually the ideal combination of jacked and normal. Not so big that you think that he is going to explode in roid rage if you don’t re-rack your weights, but he is in GREAT shape. He met my wife. And it made me nervous.
For a long time, when I first started working out at this particular gym, I would think to myself, “Why can’t I look like that?”
I was doing this shoulder exercise that I read out of a magazine one day and it wasn’t anything special, but it was challenging to me, because it was new.
As I stood in front of the mirror pressing the dumbbells, I looked in the reflection and saw Captain America doing upside down, reverse dips on the pull up bar. Think about that...Can you even picture an upside down, reverse dip?
His head was pointed toward the ground, his legs were pointed towards the ceiling, and he was doing dips.
It doesn’t make any sense, but I’m telling you, it happened, and it was IMPRESSIVE.
For a long time, I never returned to the gym. How could I compare to a guy who works out in a tank top, is the life of the party when their isn’t even a party, and does upside down reverse dips?
I’m proud of myself for making it out of bed, and my exercises come from a magazine.
That’s not true, I continued to go to the gym. But I also continued to feel like pint sized version of a real man.
The truth is, we are in different places. It’s not a fair comparison.
This guy is single, no kids, and has the time to work out for a couple of hours every day. I’m sure there are more reasons than those for why he looks the way he does.
The point is, there is no value in me spending my time and energy comparing myself to him. I’m not trying to accomplish his goals, and we aren’t starting from the same place. I don’t know the work he has put in to look like he does, the challenges he has overcome to get there and stay there, and what his goals are.
I’m not trying to reach his goals, or color within his lines. We are working towards different things, and living in a different reality.
When I related this story to a friend of mine, he pointed out, that there is a great chance that he looks at me, my beautiful wife, my daughter, and my son, and longs for a piece of what I have.
He asks me often about my son when we talk at the gym, and it's apparent that he enjoys seeing him, and seeing me with my family.
That's not a, "He might be able to do reverse dips in a tank top, but I have a wife and family" gotcha moment. I think it's important for us to recognize that when we get sucked into the comparison trap, that we often have pretty awesome things going on ourselves, that others may be hoping for as well.
When we compare ourselves to others, there are a couple of different things that happen, and mostly, they are negative.
One thing that happens, is that we forget about all of the ways that we have been blessed ourselves. Our blessings, if we are not careful, can quickly turn to frustrations, when we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others.
“I could workout longer if I didn’t have to get home so my wife could workout”
“I wouldn’t be so tired in the morning if my kids didn’t require so much attention at night”
“If I had a different job, I could spend more time in the gym”
“If only I looked good in a tank top…”
Our blessings start to fade to the background when we look around and all we see is what we DON’T have.
The other thing that happens, is that we start to stop valuing the things that we are good at, or the potential we have. It becomes very difficult to fan our gifts into flame, when we don’t value and honor our gifts.
So we take a look at Fabio’s nephew, in his tank top and headband (yes, he wears a headband as well, and it looks fantastic) doing upside down, reverse dips, and we cancel our gym membership, because, “I’ll never get there, so what’s the point?”
Unfortunately, we don’t generally see people that are where we’d like to be, and then try and figure out how to get there. We just look at them and recognize that we don’t have what they have, or look like them, and then we get depressed.
Or jealous.
Or envious.
And when we are so busy focusing on these “shortcomings” in our life (as we see it in our place of comparison) then we aren’t able to focus on growing and developing our gifts.
Comparison, in short moments and when it is sustained over a period of time, sucks our joy and potential right out of us.
My encouragement for you, is to take some time to consider your blessings.
What are the things that are present in your life, that you can be thankful for?
Think about the people, the situations, your season in life, even the things you have, that you can be thankful for.
I would encourage you to write those things down, so that, just like your roots, you are forcing yourself to fully articulate your gratitude.
In addition to this, if there are areas where you have found yourself comparing, (Ex: Captain America)then think about this.
Are you comparing simply for the sake of comparing? Meaning, do you just wish for something someone else has, because there is a natural inclination for us to lean in that direction?
Are you comparing because there is someone who is in a place you’d like to be, or even has something that someday you’d like to have?
It’s possible that I’m wrong, spiritually or scripturally, but if someone’s beach house, or Porsche strikes a chord with you internally, because you would like to one day have a beach house, I think that is okay...As long as it isn’t a life sucking comparison full of jealousy and envy. And as long as that thing doesn’t become something that you worship.  
If you want to look like Captain America or one day hold a job or position that you see in someone else, I think that is also okay, given the “As long as” stipulation above.
And if this is the place that you find yourself, then I would encourage you to first reference the list you made about the things that you are grateful for.
Then, through the lens of gratitude, I would say that if those things, attributes, positions, etc. are things that you would like to see in your life, start to lay out tangible action steps as to how you can get there.
Heck, speak to Captain America and ask him if he’d be willing to give you a couple of tips. Reach out to the professional who is where you want to be, and ask them for their 1, best piece of advice for someone in your position. Make a road map for how you can get to the point where you can have the beach house.
And then, rather than comparing, you can get busy working towards the things you’ve decided are important to you, absent of a mindset of comparison, and with a heart full of gratitude.
Action Steps:
1. Review your list of things that you can be grateful for. If it has been awhile since you made the list, maybe you set the timer again and see what you can add to, or what new things you can come up with. It’s important to remind yourself of the beauty that exists in your life, and the things that you can be grateful for within it.

2. Be honest with yourself, and identify those areas in which you
often get caught comparing. Or think about the specific people or situations that you are comparing yourself to right now. I’ll bet those aren’t too hard for you to identify.

3. Look at your list of comparisons, and identify (honestly) which
of those areas fall into the category of jealousy or envy. Take
a minute to daydream about what it might be like if you were
able to do upside down, reverse dips in a tank top and a
headband and look good doing it...and then put that away. All
that is doing is robbing you of your joy and potential.

4. Look at your list of comparisons and identify those areas that 
are genuine areas of interest for you. Those areas where you
are comparing because you have a genuine desire to become 
______ or to have _________.

5. Make a plan as to how you can move the needle towards achieving those things. Who can you speak to? Who can you observe from a distance? What areas can you be more
disciplined in? Where do you need to work harder? What do
you need to say no to in order to reach your goal? What is it going to take for you to get there?

Thank you for reading.

Much Love,

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