“Comparison is the thief of joy.”~ Theodore Roosevelt
This week I’ve been percolating about what happens when we weigh one person’s attributes against another’s.
Every day we see examples of people being compared to others. Media outlets analyze the differences between Venus and Serena Williams’ achievements. Reviewers debate the acting performances of Josh Brolin versus his father James. Duchess Meghan’s royal demeanor is weighed against Princess Kate’s.
A long time ago I worked for a manager who regularly shared negative comparisons between employees. He’d say things like, “For some reason, Brad’s sales projections are always much more accurate than yours,” or “Diana doesn’t seem to make as many mistakes as you do. She’s one of the most conscientious people in the company.”
The boss was probably hoping that a little internal competition would make us work harder, but I always felt so downcast after those meetings.
Years later, I learned that some of my former teammates felt the same way; the comparative comments had created rivalries, made us feel insecure, and contributed to a dysfunctional work environment.
In contrast, I also had the good fortune of working for another manager who celebrated our individual strengths, fostered teamwork, and privately helped us in the areas where we still needed to grow.
The Pressure to Measure Up
Closer to home, some of us are compared to our siblings, parents or teammates by teachers, relatives or coaches. A recent article in The Telegraph reports that twins experience higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression because teachers and parents sometimes see them as “one unit” instead of two very different and distinct individuals.
Even though I’ve experienced how comparisons can be painful and discouraging, I know I’m guilty of doing it myself.
We each have uniquely beautiful personalities, talents, and abilities. Having our distinctiveness weighed against that of another person can stifle those special gifts.
I really hope to eliminate this bad habit of thinking and speaking. What a good gift we give when we encourage the people around us to shine as individuals. Not comparing might even save a person’s life.
How About You?
Have you ever been measured against another person and felt overshadowed? Do you have any tips for ignoring comparisons? I always love hearing your thoughts and comments.
Here’s to celebrating the wonderful originality of the people in our lives!
Grateful thanks to Mila Gutorova for permission to use the photo of her uniquely individual sisters.