Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This blog is inspired by the following quote:

“Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to you a year ago”
- Anonymous

You know when you read something and it just hits you like a ton of bricks? The second I saw this quote, it deeply rooted itself inside of my mind and heart. This is truly a profound way to approach life and I couldn’t wait to share it on this blog.

I am a firm believer in continuous development. I feel that a key ingredient to a fulfilling and satisfied life is to always strive for personal growth and improvement. I’m also from the camp that believes that our own individual potential should calibrate our measuring tool for this growth and improvement.

Our world often encourages us to compare ourselves to other people. Messages of “Look at how rich they are! Look at how beautiful they are! Look how smart they are! Look at how big their house is! Look at how ripped their abs are!” It surrounds us everywhere we turn. If you watch television, read magazines, surf the Internet or walk outside in any urban area, it’s nearly impossible to avoid this noise. Media and Marketing are constantly yelling at us with images and slogans geared towards our insecurities. “You don’t have enough of ____________”, “You’re not ___________ enough”, “You should be more of _____________”, “If you could just _____________, then you’ll be happy”. It’s hard not to look around and feel a little inadequate. Comparing ourselves to others is almost forced upon us in today’s day and age.

I’m happy to reveal that there is another choice. Just like the quote says, instead of comparing ourselves to others, why not compare yourself to who you were a year ago. You are the only one who can gage your sense of self-satisfaction.

Take a moment right now to reflect back on who you were a year ago. What were your goals? What were you embarking on? What were your fears and hesitations? What were you looking forward to? What type of physical condition were you in? What impact did you want to make in your business and community? What kind of partner did you want to be? Was there anything you wanted to change about your situation? What did you want to be more of?

Now, take a moment to see where you are now. How far did you come? Are you proud of the progress you’ve made or did you come up short of your hopes and expectations? What did you do that was great and what could have been done better?

So much can transpire over the course of a year. During this period of time, life can be like an exhilarating roller coaster ride with several dramatic twists and turns. Reflecting back on who you were and where you wanted to be a year ago can really be an eye opener. Maybe you’ve met your goals, maybe you’ve exceeded them or perhaps you came up short. Regardless of where you are, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect back and ask yourself “why”. If you are exactly where you wanted to be: why? If you are beyond where you wanted to be: why? If you didn’t quite get there: why? Take a moment to reflect and celebrate.

To conclude this blog, I will end with a simple request: please stop comparing yourselves to others. Just stop. It’s no good for you and it’s most likely going to leave you feeling like crap. Other people aren’t you and they never will be. Instead, start comparing yourself to that best version of you. It’s in your complete control to become the best version of you possible. Define what that looks like. Don’t let anyone or anything tell you who that person is. Imagine how much more you can learn. Imagine how many new activities you can try. Imagine how many new challenges you can conquer and how many more lives you can impact. Now take that vision and start applying yourself. In a year’s time, take a moment to reflect and ask yourself why you are where you are. And then celebrate. And then repeat.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Power of a Compliment

When was the last time you sincerely told someone that they were awesome just because? If you’re like me, you probably think about it often, but don’t always actually take the time to do it. Well, I hope this blog inspires you to reach for the phone and make a few calls to commend those around you.

A compliment or an acknowledgment of someone’s effort is a powerful tool to build relationships and inject positive energy into the universe.

I know that I, for one, do not do it enough. Often times I am living inside of my own head, thinking about my own list of things that have to get accomplished. I get so focused on my needs that I sometimes forget to recognize the hard work of those around me.

It takes a team of people to make any dream a reality. We are constantly relying on others to help elevate us and this is the way life was meant to be. This is why everyone has a different personality and different strengths. The world was designed for us to work together! We would never make any progress if it weren’t for a giant team surrounding us.

As an athlete, I had my coach, club, teammates, National and Provincial Federations, parents, friends, sponsors and countless others who were putting in a daily effort to help me pursue my Olympic dream. I said “thank you” often, but I didn’t say it enough.

Now retired from sport and embarking into the realm of entrepreneurship by opening my own gymnastics facility, I am noticing the same amount (if not more) of ‘behind the scenes’ players who are contributing to the success of my new venture. There are lawyers, realtors, investors, bankers, friends, family, employees, insurance brokers, graphic designers, web developers, print companies, merchandisers, federations, associations, contractors, interior designers, advisors, board members, city planners, property managers, accountants, bookkeepers, IT experts, etc, etc, etc. that are all making huge efforts to help give this project legs. 

 The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in this process is the power of a compliment. It is critical to show appreciation and to acknowledge the significance of those around you. Taking two minutes to recognize when someone has done a great job or has gone out of their way to help you is vital to success. Not only does it make them feel great to hear positive feedback, it makes you feel great too. Complimenting others on their admirable behaviour also reinforces that you recognize their effort. This, in turn, makes them more willing to go to bat for you.

Now, I’m not talking about a generic “thanks”. I’m talking about a thoughtful, genuine and sincere acknowledgment of how much you truly appreciate having them as a part of your team. Think of how they’ve made you feel. Think of what exactly it was that they did that made you feel honoured. Think of how their efforts are positively impacting your success and let them know the details. I encourage you to take it to the next level and make the call or write the note with true sincerity behind it.

My gymnastics coach used to always say that water is way better than fertilizer. He would always make a point of filling me up with positive reinforcement right before a big meet. He would continually remind me of how proud he was of my dedication. He would always reinforce that we were ready to perform. He knew that taking the 5 minutes to let me know that my hard work was noticed would give me the freedom to rise to my greatest level. And it always did.

People love to be acknowledged for their extraordinary skills and talents. People love to hear that they are rock stars at what they do. So, instead of being stuck in your own mind, take a few minutes out of today and make a couple of calls to tell those around you that they are awesome. I guarantee it will make you feel awesome too. 

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