Monday’s interview was a stretch for me, and I think an exploration of the reasons for that could be a trust tending move – for me, but also for anyone navigating the choppy waters of self comparisons and goal setting at the start of new things.
Toward this end, I want to explore two related thoughts – one about self comparisons, and the other about goal setting. The first I’ll post today, and the second
tomorrow on Friday.
Thought #1: Self comparisons can be just as constructive as they are destructive.
Many of the folks from Monday’s interview intimidate me. The volume of work they’ve produced does this alone, but when you add to that their business savvy and/or the strength and clarity of their convictions, I find myself silenced, sometimes, wondering what in the world I thought I was doing pursuing my dreams. By comparison, I feel like a slow-motion slug.
Leaving my comparisons with people at that – at a feeling of shame or discouragement about what I have or haven’t done or am currently capable of doing: this feels like an inherently unproductive activity, and one that uproots, rather than nourishes, an outlook of trust.
I think this is true even when our comparisons with others leave us feeling superior in some way, or proud of how much better we are at some activity than they.
Because embedded in that entire system – the one that assigns pride and shame to the various parts of every spectrum (productivity, popularity, business savvy, etc.): embedded in that system is the knowledge (fear!) that I am or could be labeled “shameful” by comparison to someone else.
I want to do everything I can to sidestep that game altogether.
What I don’t want to do is avoid comparisons altogether. Comparisons are a wonderful means of identifying places where we want to grow. They can clarify our dreams and help us recognize the nuances of who we are and who we aren’t, what we stand for, and what we can’t, with good conscience, get behind.
I wrote in the comments from last time that I’m challenged to do things I otherwise wouldn’t do by some of Seth Godin’s ideas. He’s constantly saying, “Ship it!”, meaning Get your stuff out there! Stop waiting around for someone else to say it/do it/create it/dream it up better! Stop bogging down in all the rationalizations that really have fear at their core!
This is a message I truly need to hear sometimes.
And as I said, at the same time, a closer listen to my own life and calling has me hearing this: Ship it, yes. Step out of the bog, yes. But slow is sometimes the most necessary thing for certain goals, and in some cases the more trusting, courageous act than a frantic, mad dash.
I don’t think Seth would disagree. But I don’t think these thoughts are his line, either. They aren’t his torch to bear.
My comparisons with him – as with all the rest of the people from that interview – have me clarifying the torches that are mine to carry while illuminating my edges for growth and my “fears that look like rationalizations”. I’m getting to know myself better. I’m more mindfully imagining who I want to become.
My encouragements to myself and everyone else on this point, then:
My roots are Christian and I’m reminded as I write this of the story where one of Jesus’s followers, Peter, wanted to walk on water. Peter was in a boat and Jesus standing on the water some distance away.
“Come,” said Jesus, and Peter stepped out of the boat onto water and – holy hills! – with his eyes on Jesus, was walking! But then he noticed the wind and waves around him and started to sink.
The points above feel a lot like keeping our eyes on the prize – maintaining the gaze that makes the treacherous wind and waves of pride and shame irrelevant as we go about the miraculous task of starting new things.
Up next: Part 2: Keeping the discomforts of goal-setting clean