Confident Comparison?

My dear friend, Karen Fox (opens in a new link), shared this quote with me:

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you are better than everyone,

it’s walking in and not having to compare yourself to anyone at all.” – unknown

What a great insight into confidence…that confident people don’t compare themselves to others. To some, that may seem arrogant, i.e. that others are irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Confident people observe; they do not compare.

Observation vs comparison

Confident people are typically observant. They pay attention to what others do, not as a way to compare themselves to others, but to learn from others. There’s nothing arrogant about being an avid learner. Quite the opposite, humility is at work when we view everyone as a potential teacher…regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Others’ comparisons

The fact that confident people don’t compare themselves to others doesn’t prevent others from making comparisons for them. The typical responses from confident people in these situations are:

  • They unabashedly acknowledge the other party’s skills, abilities and character.
  • They congratulate the other party on their success and continue to wish them well.
  • They acknowledge what they’ve learned by observing the other party’s efforts.

You’ll notice that in these responses, confident people always focus on the compared person’s attributes, not on the comparison someone is attempting to make.

Benefits of not comparing

There are a number of benefits that accrue to confident people by virtue of the fact that they don’t compare themselves to others. They:

  • Avoid denigrating their own achievements; something that occurs as a result of our natural tendency to compare ourselves to those who are more accomplished than we are.
  • Don’t become envious of others’ success. Instead, they learn how to enhance their own success by observing others’ accomplishments.
  • Connect more quickly with people because they’re not comparing themselves to those whom they meet. Comparison implies judgment; no one enjoys being judged.
  • Become exceptional at what they do because they are constantly in the learning mode and view others as potential teachers.
  • Enjoy life more…for the reasons cited in the preceding bullet points.

The obvious question is “Are you enjoying these benefits?” If not, how can you begin enjoying them?

For you

If you’ve already developed the habit of not comparing yourself to others, congratulations! Your confidence is serving you well. Keep up the great work.

If you haven’t yet developed this habit, here are simple exercises to help you do so:

  • Each morning, shortly after rising, commit to viewing everyone you meet as a teacher and learn what you can from their wisdom and experience.
  • Each evening, shortly before retiring, recall the things you learned that will help you in the future. Note the fact that you feel appreciative instead of envious, energized instead of drained, elevated instead of deflated.
  • Continue these exercises until you become aware that this is your default way of thinking. It typically takes only a week or two for this to occur…as long as you’re consistent in your efforts.

For our kids

As the kids in your life begin to make comparisons, and they will, share with them the quote at the beginning of this blog post. Help them understand the difference between observing, which implies learning, and comparing, which implies judging. Learning assures greater success in the future; judging tends to delay, if not thwart, success.

As kids learn to view others as potential teachers, they’ll enjoy all the benefits outlined above. Please share these benefits with them so that they can see what they’ll gain. Better yet, live this message and they’ll emulate your behavior…and be forever grateful to you for having imparted this wisdom to them.

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Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, As always very insightful topic and ideas around confidence.

    I learned a valuable lesson from my first boss Jack Ryan. His viewpoint that he shared with me was that we should avoid trying to be better than someone else. We are a lot better off just building on what other people have accomplished. This simple advice still serves me well 50 years later!

    • dfurtwengler

      Sage advice, indeed, Bill. The reality is that we are all better at something than other people, sometimes as a result of natural ability, sometimes it’s because our interest is greater than theirs and sometimes because we desire a higher level of achievement. Those with higher levels of interest and desire do what your boss suggested: they build on what they learn from others. Thanks for sharing.

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