Your Benchmark: Who Do You Compete Against?

Before I begin this post, it is important that you realize that I am taking a somewhat extremist view, but bear with me.

Arguably, you cannot gauge anything without a comparison or standard level to gauge it against. Water cannot be ‘warm’ without some comparison, i.e. to water that is ‘cold’. Along that line of thinking, without being sad you would never really understand happiness. Again, being very happy is simply a relative term to being slightly happy.

Where am I going with these philosophical arguments? Well let’s consider this – as shallow as it may sound – you measure a large deal of your success in comparison to others. Be it people around you, people you know or potentially people you hear about – to some degree everyone measures their success against external indexes. The reason many people consider getting a job that pays over $50,000 a year (or any other income level) a success, is because they know how few people achieve that level of income. You might consider yourself a success because you have the best title, highest income or work for the most prestigious firm. The point is, internally you are comparing against someone.

Okay, so what’s the point? The key is to understand, in that light, who you are comparing yourself against. Who have you set up as an index to measure yourself against? This is something that can be very powerful if used properly – it can go one of two ways – you set an index that is at or below you. You feel confident and successful, but you might limit your upward ambition. Or, you set an index above you, something that motivates you to succeed and work harder than ever before.

Choose Your Index Wisely

Personally, I have found that you can really motivate yourself by looking beyond your immediate colleagues, friends and acquaintances to what some of the brightest minds, even others your age, are doing. There are people out there that have done amazing things, with much more difficult and less forgiving circumstances. Mark Zuckerburg is now the youngest billionaire in history. I hate to say it, but look at 50 cent. You might have a less than appreciative view of him, but no one can deny that he has risen above his circumstances. The guy was dealing drugs when he was 12! Recently, he made hundreds of millions of dollars off his investment in Vitamin Water. What’s your excuse?

I’m not saying you have to go out and make the Forbes 500 list, but make sure you are competing against a worthy advisory! It’s easy to win in the amateur league. Find someone to use as an index- go where the competition is fierce, go where you can grow, go where the expectations are high – and you will surprise yourself with what you can do


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