… that I didn’t contribute as much as she did

… that my comment was not as impactful as his

… that I’m not as (fill in your story line).

Comparison is a fast path to misery. It will leave you constantly judging your success relative to your perception of other people’s success. Not their actual success – your perception of it. It will make you hide so as not to be exposed, overcompensate, worry, and generally beat yourself up.

Have you held back in a meeting because you thought your comments might not be “smart enough?” Have you compared your clothes, body, nose, sense of humor to your good friends? Have you wanted to ask for clarification on a term you didn’t understand but didn’t because everyone else seemed to know it? (The great irony being we actually choose to stay less educated because we didn’t want to LOOK less educated).

When we compare ourselves to others we give away our power and our truth. We shatter our confidence and waste precious energy concealing ourselves from others. Why this big concern for looking good?

I would argue everyone does this in some area or to some degree. And a simple self-audit of 5 Why’s can help you uncover what’s in it for you. How do the Five Why’s work?

Imagine you were in a meeting and you held back your contribution.

  • Why #1? Because I didn’t have my thoughts organized and I wanted more time to plan my response.
  • Why #2? Because I didn’t want to say something that wasn’t impactful.
  • Why #3? Because everyone else had great thoughts, and I didn’t want to look unprepared.
  • Why #4? Because people might think I wasn’t qualified.
  • Why #5? (Which becomes a Why Does This Matter Question): Because I am afraid that I am not as smart as the people around me.

Aha! We found the core WHY – I’m not smart enough. The second stage of the audit is to consider where this core belief shows up in your life (because how we do anything is how we do everything). I promise that you will discover that these tiny limiting beliefs are wreaking havoc on your life.

Now what? I’d love to say there’s an abracadabra that banishes this fear from your life, but the reality is it takes gritty, disciplined work to change these beliefs. Often, we dragged them chained to our ankle from childhood, and they are deeply ingrained. I can only tell you that freedom from the chain is possible and pays huge dividends to your success and to your happiness.

Once you know your limiting beliefs (or more bluntly, the lies we tell ourselves that hold us back), you can do something about it. You can begin to confront it, rework it, evaluate it, and banish it by practicing a new way. But it takes hard work. It takes dropping comparison to others. It takes stepping into the fire of fear and relearning through immersion a better way of life.