Never Good Enough: The Constant Comparison to Overnight Success Stories

· Success Stories,Mental Health,Business Health,Small Business Owner,Business Success

I have this sneaking suspicion that I am not the only entrepreneur that has a little voice in the back of my head that constantly reminds me how I should be doing better.

Earlier this year I was sitting down with one of my speakers from the Grow Retreat 2019 and I remember feeling like I should apologize for not being as far as I felt I should be based on the amount of people who have reached out to help me! A pretty intense feeling of shame washed over me, and I changed the topic as fast as I could as the endless voice in the back of my head started playing that record that goes something like “Are you really good at this business thing if there are SO many businesses out there that have achieved SO much more in the same or less time?”

We’ve all heard about the incredible success stories that spur us all on with dreams of billions in cash buy-outs and simultaneously discourage us from celebrating our own wins!

  • Dollar Shave Club was bought out for $1 billion in cash five years after they started up.

  • A kid in New Jersey managed to turn $10,000 into $300,000 in one year by trading penny stocks on his phone.

  • An emailing app called Acompli went from zero income to $200 million buy-out from Microsoft in 18 months.

  • Instagram went from not even existing to being one of the most popular apps in the world in three years.

  • Grant Cardone & I put on our Grow events for the first time in the same year! He had 2500+ at his, I had 18!

The voice in my head can get pretty insistent! There’s always someone who did it better, faster, smarter!

I found that I didn’t even want to post to Social Media for weeks on end because it didn’t matter what I said, someone would pipe up and completely invalidate any work I’d accomplished with their dismissive replies. Of course, we all know in our heads that we shouldn’t listen, that their opinion of us only has the weight we give it. But internalizing that is hard.

Eventually, I started to realize that this mindset of believing that I had to be better, faster, or further along than I currently was caused legitimate problems in my business.

Every time we would get close to any kind of breakthrough, my belief that it wasn’t a big enough breakthrough would get in the way. Anytime I would get on a stage (big or small!) the voice in the back of my head would start off the entire time I was speaking, nagging about how the stage should be bigger by now, I should have gotten paid more, the audience wasn’t responsive, etc. I found myself failing to perform at my peak again and again when it mattered most.

I realized I wasn’t alone when interviewing Brian Smith, the founder of Ugg boots, as a potential speaker for the upcoming Grow Retreat. He was relaying a story of the time he spoke at the Inc 5000 conference (the 5000 fastest growing businesses in the US!). As he was delivering the keynote, he and a moment of inspiration and asked the audience “How many of you feel successful?”

In an audience of, arguably, 5000 of the best business owners in the country, not a single person raised their hand.

Hearing Brian tell the story helped me start to recognize that this is not a concept that I have struggled with alone. It’s something I’ve worked on aggressively over the past year and a half and am seeing shifts in my mindset.

I realized I was seeing those shifts and that a shift was possible when someone asked me recently how the business was doing.

It’s a common question in my circles and in the past, I’ve always smiled & started off with a generic “It’s freaking great!” because I know in my head that it is, but I’m casting wildly to remember what’s going on that is GOOD at that moment. The voice in my head had always started up at that moment to remind me about all the lose ends in the business, the things that haven’t taken off as quickly as I’d hoped, etc.

This time, my first instinct was actual pride. I honestly answered the individual that the business is thriving. Obviously, there’s always room to grow, but I’m really proud of what we’re creating right now and where we are.

It felt like shackles had dropped from my wrists to realize that!

It’s a similar moment to when you finally catch a clean breath of air after living with a stuffed up head for a few days. You can’t recognize how wonderful it is unless it’s been taken away, but once you can breath clearly, you want to shout it from the rooftops and help others get the same relief!

I think we need more conversations about this in the business world.

Yes, there will always be someone out there who is better and faster. But we don’t have to live inside those comparisons. It takes time to retrain the brain, but we will never retrain the brain if we aren’t talking about it!

My Keys

Here’s what I did that made the biggest difference.

I started working with a mindset coach who helped me catch & examine the thoughts as they entered my head.

When we are thinking, we tend to get caught up in experiencing those thoughts rather than examining them rationally. Plus, thoughts are fast! They are in and out of your head in nano-seconds and all you’re left with is that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. It took time, and help, for me to learn to slow down my thoughts, look at them rationally, and dissect them carefully.

I also started meditation.

Working with a coach once every two weeks wasn’t going to be enough to transform decades of training in my brain. I started meditating every day for 10-20 minutes following guided meditations. Not to stop the thoughts. But to become aware of them so my coach and I could dissect them better.

Lastly I started journaling intentionally about those patterns that I didn’t like in my head...

I’ve been journaling my whole life (my first diary was purple and fuzzy with a pink butterfly so that tells you how long I’ve been at this!). But I started journaling daily about about three years ago, and now I started not just throwing everything down on the page, but also taking the sections of my thinking that I didn’t like and forcing myself to look at it and examine it.

I asked questions like “Is there any validity to this thought pattern? Are there instances where this thought pattern isn’t valid? Do I truly believe this about myself? Do I LIKE this about myself?” If I found answers I didn’t like, I began actively working to change them.

I’m sure any one of these tools alone would be powerful. But I do believe that connecting all three together accelerated the reprogramming needed.

Do I still have a long ways to go? Sure!

But I want to start a conversation because I want to help others breathe easily too!

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