It seems I’m forever comparing things. I walk down the street and see a car I like and then hear the inner voice telling me why it’s better than the car next to it. I then see someone who is heavy and that same little voice says, “Hey look, they’re bigger than you, you’re not doing so bad!”. When I listen to talk radio there seems to be a never ending stream of conversation about why the caller has the right perspective and people who don’t agree with him are idiots.This process goes on and on.
What is it that has me need to be better than those around me? This form of judgment has at its root, my concern that I’m not enough. The best way to overcome this nagging concern is to continuously compare things in my world so that I receive constant reinforcement that I’m smarter, better looking, more successful and, in general, more impressive than others.
“We all do this, so what’s the big deal?” , chimes in the inner voice. The big deal is that all this comparison hides things. In the case of the car I liked, I could overlook some important flaw because I’m committed to this car being the best. In business, we often think of others who offer services or products like ours as competitors. We then favorably compare ourselves to them. Unfortunately, this bias may blind me from seeing why they are well-regarded by their customers. I remember reading a news report when the iPad was first introduced, where Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, called the product a fad, that would soon pass. This type of blindness is in us all.
What can I do? I can stop comparing things. I’m not suggesting that I look at the world without discrimination. Discrimination allows me to pragmatically see things as they are, not as I want them to be. This unbiased perspective brings clarity to my choices, and radically reduces my surprises. Seems like a good payoff.