One-Two (Gut) Punch: What Comparison and Jealousy are Trying to Teach Us
I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when all of a sudden, I saw it: one of my favorite former clients (I will call her Katie) and my celebrity coach crush—together. I couldn’t believe my eyes, or the flood of emotions in my heart. Why was Katie there? Why didn’t she tell me she was going to be in the area attending that event? If she wanted to work with a coach, why didn’t she come back to me? What does that coach have that I don’t? My head was spinning trying to make sense of what I was seeing. With the flood of adrenaline my brain, I was processing this Instagram picture as a threat.
My emotions were getting the best of me until I took a step back to explore the facts. I had gifted Katie the celebrity coach’s book for her birthday. She loved it. The lessons were spot on and made her feel understood, so she started following the celebrity coach online. When the coach went on tour for her new book, Katie was there to support her. Isn’t that beautiful? And, in a small way, I did that. And most importantly, it helped Katie, and isn’t that what being a coach is about? Meeting our clients where they are and empowering them go after what they want and need in life. Looking at the picture again as my emotions were fading away, I now saw the huge smile on Katie’s face. I clicked the “love” icon and left a comment telling Katie that I couldn’t wait to hear about the experience. And I meant it.
As a business owner, comparison and jealousy can be a daily distraction. They can play with your head, zap your attention and mental energy. Those emotions can even make you doubt yourself and pull back from your business. So, what can you do to process your feelings and minimize the distractions that jealously and comparisons can be?
Competition is part of the human experience; it’s natural and normal. Comparison, an element of competition, is how we size up the competition and access our chances of victory. In our business, the coach on your right and left aren’t competition. Services being equal, you are the only you and that is your competitive advantage. Comparison erodes our confidence. When we compare ourselves to others, we come at the situation from a place of not being enough, all too often focusing on our weaknesses instead of our strengths. If we felt like enough, there wouldn’t be a need to compare ourselves to others. And in this day of in-your-face social media, we are often comparing ourselves and our business to the airbrushed, sugar-dipped lives of those in our peripheral.
Comparison can be a positive emotion when we compare ourselves to our best selves. If you are doing your best every day, great. If you are not, you can motivate yourself by stepping up to live your daily best. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being our best. That is the opportunity for improvement, competing against your best self.
Most people see jealousy as a negative emotion. Someone has something I want, and it makes me feel bad. What if you considered jealousy to be positive? Say what? Jealousy can be positive if you realize why you are jealous—and take action. Jealousy can be a positive emotion if we see it as a messenger telling us what we want in life. Maybe another coach started a coach training program in collaboration with the local tech college, and it rubs you the wrong way. Why are you jealous? Are you jealous because she is creating a new program and that’s something you’ve wanted to do? Are you jealous because she is affiliating with this tech college and how that sets her apart? Is it a school you attended, and they overlooked you? Reflect on why it rubs you the wrong way and, most importantly, how will you act on that feeling.
What may start as jealousy could offer you an opportunity for growth if you embrace it as a positive. For example, that someone you are jealous of could be a collaborator or mentor if you check your emotions at the door. I recently met a coach who is a published author (in addition to a long list of accomplishments). I was impressed and a little jealous (OK…a lot jealous, which was in part because I was intimidated). I am writing my first book and really stretching my comfort zone. When I thought about it, I realized she would make a great mentor—she’s successfully done what I want to do. Her experience would cut down on my learning curve. Fast forward a couple months: I’ve gotten to know her, and we’ve collaborated on several projects. I’m proud that I let my guard down and saw the potential. She’s not a threat; she’s a valued ally and dear friend. Now I see her as a role model, a shining example of what I can do, and most importantly, of what I can be if I work hard.
Comparison and jealousy can be a one-two punch if you let them. They can play with your head and distract you from what is important. Those negative feelings can even make us doubt ourselves and if not managed, they can be a distraction pulling you away from the impact you want to make in the world. So, the next time you feel jealous or start comparing yourself, pause to access those emotions, listen for the lesson they are trying to teach you and take action.