Last night, my 15 year old son won Rookie of the Year on his track team. I promise you that this article isn’t an excuse to make a parental brag post (but it is really great, right?) Actually, it was something that the coach said in his speech that still stuck with me this morning. He said that Joe (being the rookie that he is), ran his races often without fully knowing that he was running alongside some of the state’s best runners, upperclassmen who were Division 1 college bound. Because he was oblivious, he was rarely intimidated. Other runners could not get in his head. This was not a deliberate tactic, Joe just simply went out and ran his own race. He consistently came in with the top finishers, and many times, beat them! At the end of one race, he crossed the finish line and came to a stop only when his coach stood in front of him. He was so caught up in running, he didn’t realize he had finished the race.
I woke up this morning wondering what that would feel like. What would it be like to be so caught up in the experience of the moment that everything else fades away? Would we all be stronger, stretch farther, and allow ourselves to be more open if we were not looking around at the “competition” nipping at our heels or ahead of us on the path? Here’s the big question:
“What opens up for us when stop comparing?”
When we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, we begin to hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. That’s not to say that we should not set high expectations for ourselves. It is to say that by using someone else’s measuring stick, we are failing to get to know ourselves. Those standards might not fit our needs at all–they might fail to highlight our actual talents and strengths. By focusing on our own interests, desires, strengths and abilities, we are connected to self and are fully present in our experiences. We become like Joe who blows through a finish line because he is enjoying the run so damn much!
Living in comparison is like living a paint by numbers life. With one eye on someone else’s portrait, we struggle and strain to fill in small wedges of pre-determined color. We have a whole beautiful, vibrant color pallet that is ours and ours alone. There is a unique way to see the world, tackle a problem, create beauty and connection–and it looks nothing like what someone else is doing.
Integrity is when our values and beliefs match our behavior and actions. When we are mirroring someone else, we are out of alignment with our own integrity. We aren’t listening to that voice telling us, “Hey, hold up…we are going the wrong way! You said you wanted to go over here!” Being out of line with our integrity does not have to be about morality or ethics (although it certainly often does). Staying connected to our integrity helps us make choices in our own best interest. It reminds us to follow our passion and our purpose. It impacts how we choose our career paths, our partners, and our lifestyle.
The next time you find yourself comparing, take a pause to consider the joy, creativity and integrity you might be disconnecting yourself from. You’ve got your own glorious race to run.