Beyond Comparisons

Can you remember the people who really believed in you and gave you the resources you needed to develop that potential?

These are the teachers, mentors, coaches, bosses, and sometimes parents that labeled you as a positive force to be reckoned with.

In many ways they gave you an internalized label.

If it represented your possibilities, it had a positive impact on your life.

If the label implied that you had a problem or worse still, were a problem, you have had a tough path in life.

By contrast, I heard of one professor who gave all his students an A grade at the beginning of the class. He then instructed them to write an essay from the perspective of the end of the semester recounting the ways they worked to achieved that grade. They all earned their A’s.

Unfortunately our highly competitive culture continually compares us with each other,

 You are a B player in our organization

 My stomach is flatter than yours

You are not as smart as your sister

Does this sort of comparison bring out our “A” game? Are we the better for it? Did we not crush the opposition, win the gold  medal, get that coveted promotion, and on and on it goes?

Motivating by comparison never brought out the best in anyone. Comparisons that pit us against each other are a way of saying “I am better than you are” or “I am less than…”

A whole host of negative feeling states and beliefs can follow such comparisons including envy, a scarcity mentality, veiled anger against the “haves” in life, and killing ourselves “keeping up with the Jones“.

Maybe it is time to

  • Give yourself an A,
  • Find people who can encourage you along the way,
  • Define behaviors that you can practice that will help you realize that grade.

All our internalized labels, both positive as well as negative, are human inventions. The good news is that we don’t have to buy into those messages.

What label would you like to have for yourself?

How will it result in personal fulfillment and contribution to others?

Give yourself an A. Then work your tail off to make it so.



About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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