It is quite natural for people to compare themselves with others. The way they choose to compare, however, contributes to the story they tell themselves about what they should do or where they should be.
The comparison rarely is adequate. That is, the comparison is made based on what is visible, and as gaps remain, these are filled with assumptions. It is part of the human meaning-making desire. Humans like to know. And if they don’t know, they find a way to make meaning of the unknown.
A way to step out of the comparison is to accept that one doesn’t know. That’s when curiosity can step in, and questions will be asked. It creates space for learning.
And quite often a big part of the learning links to the data that is missing about oneself.
An example I encounter frequently in coaching is related to how much time there is to do more. Often clients don’t take the time to look at how many hours they are already working nor how these relate to the many more ideas of things to be done they have. Instead, they focus on how much more others seem to be working and achieving. In their fantasy, the others achieve all the projects they had planned. What they don’t see is how much time goes into the work or how many unfinished plans these people also have on their to-do lists.
Their easy conclusion is that they don’t do enough as they are the “only ones” having so many plans they have not been able to do yet.
What they rarely have is the data to prove their conclusion.
In a way, it is easier to live with the conclusion than to gather data that could make one accountable for one’s own success.