One of my favorite quotes comes from Amy Morin, who is a psychotherapist and coaches people on how to be mentally tough. (Several people actually claim this quote but I like how she speaks to it.) She says, “The only person you should compare yourself to, is the person you were yesterday.” I really like this on the personal level for a number of reasons. Everybody has different circumstances, different opportunities, different resources, different obstacles, different connections to people, so to look at your friends lives on social media or the people living on your street and define your success based on what they are experiencing, is somewhat unfair isn’t it?
What is the impact of this on us personally? When you see people doing better than you are it can cause you pain, regret, envy, jealousy, anger or maybe it just flat depresses you. Does that make us petty? I think it makes us human, but we can choose not to do that anymore, I know I have and it has made a big difference. Consider this through the lens of social media and some recent research that says using social media can actually cause depression.
I bring this up because every holiday I start getting calls from retailers wanting to know how everyone else did with business, and yesterday was no exception. My sources tell me that based on a poll of some top retailers out there, the average increase was about 5-7%. So if your business was up 10% should you feel good about that? Maybe not, if your last year’s numbers were horrible so what you were up against was easy to beat. Or if you only showed a 2-3% increase this year but did it with one less store, or in spite of losing a big account.
Comparisons aren’t so bad as a reference point but don’t give them too much weight unless you consider all of the variables. My approach is to look at other people or companies and how they are doing with some regard, but I rely more on things like…
- Am I executing my strategy and playing my game?
- Are the metrics I set for myself being met or exceeded and if not why not?
- How am I handling the roadblocks put in front of me?
- Do I have the resources I need to accomplish my goal and if not, how do I acquire them?
If your competitor is playing the short game, their results will look a lot different than yours if you are playing the long game of slow and steady growth. So be really careful in how you analyze external factors.
I want to finish with a strong statement about social media. At first, Facebook and other platforms were pretty cool to be able to connect/re-connect with people, share stories, keep up with how others were doing, and learn about new things. Now, so much of it has turned into a place for people to not only share their life but brag about how great their life is. From a place to have a healthy debate to a bitch session where you troll people and alienate them for believing something different than what you believe. If you have teenage kids as I do, you can take these trends and magnify them by a lot and now you know what they are dealing with. In many ways, it’s not healthy. If you haven’t done it already, take a vacation from your phone in that way and see what happens, you might be surprised. Don’t get me wrong, social media can be an awesome tool if used the right way, but don’t let it become a negative force!
Have you made the mistake of comparing yourself or your company to the wrong things? Has social media become a negative thing for you or your family? Share in the comments section so others can learn!