This is hard to write. Not because I can't think of anything to say but rather because my own experience on this topic became too "real" for me this past weekend and frankly, I'm a bit reluctant to talk about it. But here I go. Because I think it matters. Because it might be useful to you. Because it's helpful for me to say it out loud. Because in naming it I believe I can start changing it.
Last week I sent out the SHINE monthly newsletter. The topic...The Chaos of Comparison. I've been really tuned into where comparison is showing up around me and how it seems to be at the root of why so many of us are so busy...comparing, competing, hustling. And when I'm tuned in, the volume on my self-awareness is turned up. I thought I was doing a really great job of managing my inner critic and comparison saboteur. I was ON IT! Aware that I have a loud comparison voice but not letting it drive the direction of my life. Or so I thought.
There I was, the morning after the newsletter went out, sharing with a friend that I had some anxiety about one of my weekend activities. A girlfriend invited several of us to be part of a portrait party. She was treating us to time in front of the camera with the amazing SpiderMeeka. I told my friend on the phone that I was feeling anxious about being photographed in front of other women...especially those that I considered more photogenic than me....which was basically all of them. He gently reminded me that I had not only written about comparison the day before but also that I've been on a crusade about comparison stealing our joy for several months now. (Side bar: Note of gratitude for friends that hold up the mirror and speak truth to us.) Whoa. This hit hard. I was on the verge of letting my anxiety about the situation, diminish the joy that I could be feeling about spending a Saturday morning with donuts, mimosas and friends.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. After listening to approximately five rounds of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman while drying my hair and putting on makeup, I walked over to my closet, picked a top I loved (without following any of the rules about color or pattern) and went joyfully out into the world to have my picture taken. Morning mantra: THIS IS ME.
Great story. Happy ending, right? Oh, if only it ended there. You see, I'm not telling you all of this because it's a story about having my picture taken. It turns about it's much bigger than that. The truth that's really hard to write about is that I might actually be letting more than my joy be stolen, I might just be letting my life be taken. The full, big story, pump up the volume life that I believe we all are meant to live...where we're meant to shine...mine has been hanging out quietly over in the corner with comparison. The gift of that Saturday morning portrait party was that it revealed something I hadn't been paying attention to. It showed me that I've been walking around with a performance scorecard in my head and compared to others I had been giving myself pretty low marks. No longer above average in my former corporate role, not yet a high achiever in the world of leadership coaching..clearly below average was what I deserved. And do you know what happens when you're living with the idea you're below average? Not much. There's not much creativity there, not much energy for invention and cultivating growth...and not a lot of joy for the work that you are offering to the world. This, my friends, is not an easy thing to realize about yourself. Especially when you're committed to helping others shine.
It was time to get serious about a plan.
So here it is. I'm tearing up the scorecard that comparison has been using. The one that ranks how my accomplishments, my leadership, the way I spend my time measure up against the way everyone else is doing it. I'm done with that one. I've built a new scorecard. One that looks my life and how what I'm doing measures up against what I want to create. A progress report rather than a scorecard. Do you want to see what that looks like? Great! Because I want to share it with you.
Here's what I considered when developing this tool to track my progress:
- What do I value or want to spend time on right now?
- How often to I want to look at this and check my progress?
- What language do I want to use that feels kind vs. critical?
- What inspires me that I want to include?
- What's the question I need to ask myself if I'm not living in alignment with what is important to me?
If what I'm talking about sounds like something you can relate to, I invite you to contemplate the scorecard you've been using. How are you measuring yourself? Who are you measuring yourself against? What would it be like to create your own progress report? One that allows you to stay on track with what matters most to you. Give it a try. Do it for you. Shine on.