Beware Comparing Yourself to Others

There is a great quote from the ever-classic movie Caddyshack:

  • Judge Smails: What did you shoot today?
  • Ty Webb: Oh judge, I don’t keep score.
  • Judge Smails: Then how to you measure yourself to other golfers?
  • Ty Webb: Height

Early on in my career I had a great mentor. He taught me more in 6 months about leadership and managing projects than I’d known my whole life up to that point. Once he moved on to another company, everything I did, from team meetings, conflict resolution, scheduling, risk management, I compared to him. I measured myself based on what I’d learned and how my mentor would handle situations. When I didn’t feel I measured up to his standards, I beat myself up. This went on for at least a year.

However, as I progressed and gained more experience, I compared myself to him less and less. I realized I had my own style, my own way of doing things. Suddenly, comparing myself to someone else didn’t make sense. Once I started doing things my own way I wasn’t only happier with my job and career, but also because a much better project leader.

When you stop comparing yourself to others, you develop your own style and approaches to different situations that arise. Sure, you may still think “I wonder what [insert name here] would do?” from time to time and that’s OK. But if you would choose differently, you’re doing it based on what’s in front of you at the moment. When you have a success, be sure to celebrate it with your team, even if another team’s done something the same or better. Comparing yourself and your team’s success can take the fun out of your accomplishments, and no one wants that!

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