When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get caught up comparing yourself to others.
On my hardest days, when I am struggling to get done everything on my list or just feel unsure of what to tackle first, I have found myself immersed in podcasts, blog posts and videos from industry experts who have built businesses that I aspire to one day create.
I call this the comparison trap, and it can be a slippery slope.
The Comparison Trap
The comparison trap is tricky, because we often don’t even realize when we’re in it.
That’s because we usually fall into the trap with good intentions.
We head over to an influencer’s (or even a friend’s) website and start consuming their content with stars in our eyes.
After consuming the content, we feel smarter and more capable; most importantly, we feel inspired and less alone.
The feeling of inspiration can blind us from realizing we are about to fall down the rabbit hole that is comparison.
In today’s digital age, with apps like Periscope and Meerkat, it’s easier than ever to get a behind-the-scenes look into someone else’s lifestyle and business.
We have a tendency to get mesmerized, and rightfully inspired, by the tactics and actions others have taken to lead them to success.
The reason this is a trap is that we automatically assume this should be a part of our strategy too.
It’s easy to see a Periscope from Hilary Rushford and automatically convince yourself that you need to be rocking Instagram and Periscope.
While looking at, and learning from, other successful business owners is a great way to get ideas and insight, it is only a mere suggestion about the types of activities we can* focus on.
*Notice, I didn’t say should.
Just because Hilary Rushford’s business is growing through her use of Instagram doesn’t mean I should be spending hours on Instagram a day.
What if I hate Instagram? What if my target client doesn’t spend time on Instagram?
Following and using the tactics, tools and approaches that others have used to achieve success can be beneficial; it can also be seriously harmful.
Because you’re the only one who knows the type of business you want to build.
Creating Your Own Path
The level of responsibility, autonomy, vulnerability, income and stress that Hilary Rushford aspires to have in her business are very likely different than mine.
I am the only one who knows the type of lifestyle that I am striving to create through this entrepreneurial journey.
Following someone else’s path (even if they have been incredibly successful in their venture, and even if I think I have a nearly identical venture) won’t lead me to my goals.
Using the same approach that someone else used before me isn’t likely going to get me where I want to be.
Imitation will likely land me in the same place it landed that other person, and we all know the saying “the grass is greener on the other side.”
I’ve heard tons of entrepreneurs say on various podcasts that when they reached their goal, they were nearly as fulfilled as they thought they would be.
Very often, it isn’t the end result but rather the journey – the process – that is the most fulfilling.
Rather than using the journey (mistakes and successes) of our mentors and industry influencers as a road map, we should use it as food for thought.
Looking to experts in our industry is a great way to spark ideas; following them is a great way to spark comparison.
Don’t expect to follow someone else’s path and end up in the place you want to be.
Don’t fall into the trap.
Instead, we can morph the brilliant ideas that our mentors had in order to make them suit our individual preferences, values and goals.
Use the experiences of others as a mere guideline for the activities that are available to you to learn, grow and eventually thrive in your own business.