Social media is wonderful.

And… I’d put money on the fact that it’s one of the worst things that’s happened to us.

You know as well as I do that it’s mostly about comparison. It takes our innate need for comparing our lives to someone else’s, and hops it up on heavy steroids.

International vacations. Perfectly dressed kids. Happy couples on a date night. New toys. Someone getting 350 birthday wishes on their special day… and you getting only 47. Ripped muscles. The list is endless, isn’t it?

I’ve heard before that it’s “comparing their highlight reel with your blooper reel”. The two will never measure up.

But social media hasn’t introduced a new problem. Humans have always compared themselves with others. Social media has only made the problem more prevalent. More accessible. Any time you look at one of many social media outlets on your phone or computer, the comparison game goes into overdrive. And it’s funny how often the toughest comparison happens when you’re having a bad day.

Unfortunately, it’s no different when running a business.

Those of you who are on social media – and it should be most, if not all, because social media is a powerful tool – are friends, or in groups, with many other business owners like yourself and you see the pics. You read the uber positive things they are saying about how their business is doing great. You see pictures of their hundreds of members with arms around each other, like one big happy family. You see the “new thing” they are trying and how they are (seemingly) killing it.

So, you jump on the bandwagon and try “it” too. But, for you, the results aren’t so pretty.

You made the hard financial decision to hire the mentor they’ve raved about, only to find out his ego is larger than life, and you’re not impressed. Or you tried the marketing technique they did that promised a ton of new members, but you barely got any traction. You brought on new coaches, yet all you have are problems.

Why?  Because everybody is different.

The things that work for one won’t always work for another. And it would serve us well to remind ourselves of this fact often.

You probably saw the picture that went viral of Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos during this year’s Olympics. When you look at that image… which one are you? Focused, with your eyes locked on the goal; or looking to the side at who is in the competition with you.

Where you fix your eyes makes all the difference.

In Charleston, we have horse-drawn carriages all over downtown. They are beautifully majestic creatures, who have to wear blinders. The blinders prevent the horses from seeing behind and beside them so they don’t becoming distracted or panicked by what’s around the

I think someone should invent human blinders to keep us focused on what’s right in front of us and ahead instead of on the people and things which can be so distracting.

At this point in the article, most would say “Just don’t compare yourself with others.” But, is that REALLY possible?

Absolutely not.

As humans, we are hard-wired for comparison.

Geez, they have so many members, but I’m sure our community is stronger.  That girl can do way more double unders than me, but I can do more muscle-ups. I wish I was funnier like that guy.  She looks better in those shorts than I do, but my arms are more defined. Why don’t people respect me like they seem to respect Joe?

None of us are immune to the comparison game.

So when you find yourself comparing – and some of us don’t even realize how much we actually compare ourselves to others – it’s helpful to remember:

  • They are only showing the highlights reel. Imagine reading a book with a pen/highlighter, and you highlighted everything – every line. It wouldn’t do any good. We highlight or underline things because they stand out. They are the wow things to us. You have these things just like they do. And just maybe the marketing thing that’s “killing it” has consumed their time, so their day-to-day business is struggling.
  • The rest of what they are not showing is laced with pain, heartache, frustration, and discouragement.  And this affects everyone. Again, no one is immune.

Remind yourself today that more is not always better.

Better is better.

What is it that YOU want?  What is success to YOU?  Maybe it’s not more. Maybe it’s optimizing what you have already.

Answer these two questions:

  1. What do I really want that is unique to me?
  2. What are the small things I need to do every day to get me closer to where I want to be?

Start today in figuring out your yardstick, not someone else’s, and work on being successful – whatever that may look like – in your own eyes.