Which Race?

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), Baz Luhrmann

It’s really easy to get bogged down in comparing yourself with others – checking to see how well others are doing and measuring yourself against them, whether that be at work or in your personal life. It’s really easy to think that it’s all about the person beside you, in front of you or behind you.

How often do we look at others and think, ‘if I can just reach them that would be great, that would be success’, or conversely, ‘I’d better pick up the pace in case the people behind catch me up’.

That this is all too common is no great surprise as we spend most of our lives in environments which encourage the generation of such a mindset. Growing up at school, taking exams, getting into college or university; and then in later life both entering the job market and staying in a job – not to mention trying to gain a promotion or forge a career through what feels like a bit of a battleground! In all of these instances, we’re being measured against other people, by other people and our relative performance is often used to communicate a perceived level of success.

But there is an important distinction here, between being measured and benchmarked against others by others, and in measuring yourself against others.

The problem is that we have no control over other people, their goals, their ambitions, the things they do or how well they do them. How ‘successful’ someone is in any given area is all relative to and determined by them. What they view as success (or otherwise) may be wholly different to your perspective on the same matter.

Therefore if we spend too much time checking to see what others are doing and how well they are doing, we miss the things that are most important. We miss the opportunity to measure ourselves against the only benchmark which really matters – ourselves.

We are the only people whose goals and ambitions we can really control and the only ones whose actions and the impact of those actions we can take full responsibility for. We are the only people who can truly define what our level of performance should be and the extent to which it brings success.

It’s only normal to be in an environment in which we are assessed and measured by other people,  relative to others, however it’s up to each of us to define what we want and what our version of success looks like.

So which race are you running?

Make sure it’s the one you’re in control of and the one whose outcome you can take full responsibility for. After all, that’s the only race which matters.

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