Stepping aside from the game of “success” and comparison
Why comparison with others is stupid and why the only person you should compare to is who you were yesterday
According to be Big 5 scale. I am high in conscientiousness and high in openness. Meaning I am hard-working and open to ideas. And this is a usual trait for societal success.
At about 16 years old, I came across self-help. And I was hooked. Exercising, Meditating, Morning Rituals, Reading Books, Quitting Social Media, etc. I have done and restarted these multiple times.
At the same time, I am someone who during his teen years was very jealous of other teens. If I see someone doing something better or I hear a young genius of the same age getting an offer from Google or making apps, I would be very very jealous and critical of myself.
As I have gotten older, I have resolved my jealousy of other people of similar age but also my jealousy of others in general. This article is a description of my current thought process.
Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash
Comparison with others is a stupid game
In a previous blog post, I talked about Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, and how these persuasion techniques can be used beyond persuasion. One of them is we can identify what sort of game we are playing and choose what game we want to play.
For example, comparison with others is an ethos game. Ethos is character. You are more likely to listen to a doctor, who is well-dressed and from a prestigious college than to a random doctor who is not.
Ethos as a game means you are comparing yourself to others and trying to one-up yourself. “He earns less than me”. “I have a good-looking girlfriend, he does not”. Ethos game is a popular cultural name: Status Games.
Status games are externally driven. And what’s externally driven is almost always fragile.
Therefore, ethos/status games are fragile.
Today you are “more successful” than someone. Yesterday someone else was. Tomorrow someone else will be.
Start to learn to play piano and after a year you’ll find a child prodigy beating you at every note. Become a senior programmer with 10 years of experience and find out some random college kid understands concepts much more deeply.
Maybe you got lucky. Or maybe someone else got lucky. Good for you and good for them.
Most comparison/Ethos Games/Status Games are stupid. It’s a win-lose game. You should choose a win-win game. Make yourself better and make someone else also better.
“Achievement/Success” is never stable. It’s in constant flux.
Simon Sinek has a wonderful video, we’ll see. Once upon a time, there was a guy who broke his legs. Everyone pities and the guys were sad. The monk said we’ll see. Then a few months later a war happened, and every man had to go to war. Guess who didn’t go to war? The guy who broke his leg. The guy is now happy. The monk says we’ll see. And the story goes on and on.
An achievement is a one-time event. It’s not an everyday event. And once you have success doesn’t mean you will stay “successful”. You or someone may lose their success and then have to start from scratch again. That’s life.
Maybe you have some opportunities that others didn’t have. Or maybe you earned your success. Now, you see someone else who has been way faster in his, should that matter? I would so no. Good for him. Good for you.
Stupidest game: RESPECT.
Earning respect externally is the stupidest game I can think of. It’s fragile.
People spend time crafting a perfect social media profile. Everyone trying to treat themselves like a celebrity. Hoping they get likes. Today everyone likes them. And they have made it part of their identity. Now, become too afraid to show the real them. They can speak freely because they are too concerned with pleasing people.
Then there are these stupid games,
- “oh, he has 10 servants we have none.”.
- “They threw a lavish party where Narendra Modi came, look at you.” (the problem with this statement is “look at you” not the event itself.
There are also “Attitude status YouTube Shorts” which are on the same level as stupid.
You should avoid the game of external respect. External respect is just a fragile ethos/status game. Instead, earn internal respect. How do you earn internal respect? By doing hard things, being ethical, and following logos (logic). The rest, how others think, and what they’ll say doesn’t and should not matter.
By stepping outside this “respect”, game and free yourself from others’ judgment.
After one point it doesn’t matter.
Suppose you are earning 5 lakh rs per month. After this does it matter if you earn more? You can travel the world well. Your “lifestyle” does not change all that much.
The same is true with everything. Once you are fit enough, that’s good enough. You don’t need to try to get a bigger bicep for comparison with others.
Everything reaches a good enough point. If someone else reaches a good enough point good for them, if you reach, good for you.
Get inspired and learn from others but remember, the competition is you vs you.
Comparison for being jealous is stupid. Compare to become inspired but recognize that your goals may be different from theirs.
For your company to be successful, it doesn’t mean someone else company needs to be unsuccessful.
Restating the same premise: If I achieve something, good for me. If someone else achieves something, good for them. Aim for a Win-win.
At the same time, it’s unfair for you to compare yourself to others. You and they have different lives with different strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. Compare to who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today 1.
Comparing with your previous self gives you the best understanding of your progress and makes personalized decisions.
You’ll always find someone better than yourself and at the same time “success” is in constant flux i.e. it can change with time. Therefore, you should enter the game of becoming jealous of other people’s success.
Avoid status games. It leads to pretending. They are win-lose. Play win-win games.
Recognize once you achieve a certain level of “output success”, it doesn’t matter what happens after it.
Get inspired and learn from others. But don’t compare yourself to others. The only perfect person you can compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.