I remember teaching my son how to ride a bike when he was five. We took him down to the park, took the training wheels off, gave him some instruction and, eventually, taught him to ride a bike. Although it was hard for him at first, he quickly wanted us to stop holding the bike so he could ride by himself.
It was all going fairly well until he came to a portion of the path where a large tree was growing on the shoulder. My son kept looking at the tree because he was afraid he would run into it. And sure enough, because he was looking at the tree, and worried about running into the tree, that is where he ended up. He ran right into the tree trunk with his bike.
You see, when you are riding a bike, or doing anything, you always end up where your eyes are looking.
This week I cleaned out my inbox and unsubscribed from lots of lists and groups. I get too many newsletters and offers that crowd my mailbox every day. I also belong to some groups for entrepreneurs where we help one another celebrate our successes and share our challenges and I get a ton of updates from there too. Generally, learning from other people is good. Interactions with your peers can be very helpful. Useful even.
Until they start distracting you from your own mission.
Until you spend more time “researching” than you do progressing.
Until you become jealous of other people’s success.
In the last few weeks, I’ve had to unsubscribe from some newsletters and exit some of my online groups because I began to have unhealthy thoughts about myself in relation to my peers.
I became jealous of their successes, thinking I’d never be able to be where they are.
I became disenchanted with what I was doing because I started comparing myself to other people who have different missions and circumstances.
Because I was so busy looking at what other people were doing, I lost focus for what I was doing. Because I was only looking at the success of others, I lost sight of my own successes and started feeling like a failure.
This is the “Sideways Syndrome” where we spend more time looking from side to side at others and comparing ourselves to them. As a result, we lose focus of our purpose. Does this ever happen to you?
When you are publishing your book, do you look at others who have published and, after first being inspired by them, start comparing yourself to them wondering if you will ever “make it as big”?
When you are writing, do spend your time comparing your first draft to someone else’s fifth draft?
There is a fine line between learning from and being inspired by someone and comparing yourself to someone in a way that makes you lose sight of who you are.
You are the only one who has had your experience with your filter and your point of view. And because you are who you are, you have received this calling to share your story in a way that no one else can.
Instead of looking around at what other people are doing, look at what you are called to do. With your focus forward instead of sideways, guess where you will end up?!
What about you? Share in the comments below what you do when you start comparing yourself to other authors.