It’s football season. I live in a home where “Sports Center,” “Inside the NFL,” and similar shows are often on the television. I am sure some of you can relate. Most often they become “white noise” to me. Recently I happened to hear a conversation about a specific football player, whose name I don’t remember. One of the commentators said that this player needed to be more careful not to get caught up in the game around him.
Watch the comparisons
As I heard that, I thought about how easy it is to do that as creative arts entrepreneurs. You look around at what others are doing. How do you compare to them? Is their art stronger? Are they more successful? It is so easy to do that and not pay attention to where you are.
And, worse, you are comparing apples to oranges. You do not know what that other person’s real journey has been. You only see what they show you. I have a friend who says, “You don’t know what is going on behind the front door.”
This is particularly hard in this day of social media where you see curated lives front and center. It’s hard to look at the beautiful pictures that someone posts on Instagram and not compare.
And, the negative self-talk starts and continues. You need to learn to ignore counterproductive self-talk. And, yes, easier said than done.
Progress, not perfection
Part of the problem is that you compare your “actual” to an “ideal,” what I like to call “perfect” or someone else’s achievements. Sure you can use that ideal to set your goals, but you should not measure your success by this gap between the actual and the ideal. Instead you should measure by looking back. Look at where you are today and where you started. By focusing on your actuals, rather than the gap, you will find you are much happier about your success.
Looking at those successes will provide confidence and motivate you to achieve more.
So when you find yourself getting caught up in the game around you, rather than your own, whether that is comparing yourself to someone else, thinking you should be further along the path than you are, stop and remember to play the game that you are in.
I love this quote from Meryl Streep that sums up what you need to do:
“Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.”
So, put the blinders on, focus on where you are and where you are going, become your own master, and celebrate your uniqueness.
How do you handle negative messages that try to trap you into thinking your work does not compare?