Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

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Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

This quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt is one that can resonate well with us all. As humans, we’re always comparing ourselves to each other. We choose someone else’s standard of living or success, and we attempt to hold ourselves accountable to it rather than focus on our uniqueness or distinct individual characteristics given to us by our Creator. We are made in our God’s image, and He gave us a standard in and through Christ, so ultimately His likeness should be our goal. We should strive to be Christlike, not copycat versions of each other.

If you stop and think about the lack of joy you may be experiencing in your life, likely you’ll be able to attribute it to comparison. You might be unhappy about your physical appearance because you’re comparing it to someone else’s standard of size, shape, weight, athleticism, etc. You might be unhappy about your career because you’re comparing yours to the standard of professional success you witness all around you. Or maybe you can’t find joy in your relationships because you’re comparing them to everyone else’s. Many people are quick to blame the media–TV, magazines, Hollywood, Facebook, Instagram, the Internet, and the list could go on. But, in the end, we get to decide our standards. We get to choose joy or misery. It’s easy to point the blame elsewhere, but we can only blame ourselves for not choosing to live the unique calling that our Creator God so beautifully and wonderfully made us to live (see Pslam 139:13).

So, are you unhappy? Do you struggle with finding joy and rejoicing with others? Are you always comparing your life’s successes or failures with someone else’s?

If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to do a spiritual inventory within your own heart. Here are some suggestions to reflect upon:

1. Talk to God about His unique purpose or calling for you. God wants to guide you. He wants you to seek His direction. Ask God where and how He wants to use you, and then open your eyes to where He’s leading you.

2. Spend some time reading, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word. We seem to forget, but God gives us the answers to life’s greatest questions within Scripture. Sure, the Bible may not always be clear or make sense to the complex human mind, but there’s a great consistency throughout the entire message of the Bible. Don’t just chew on a few tidbits–really dive deep into Scripture and wrestle with it. Just be ready for God to wow you.

3. Redirect your worship to God Himself and away from others or the things of this world. There are distractions at every turn, but stay focused on the Lord. Don’t let the Enemy cleverly and cunningly win your full attention and keep you from being able to live a life of worship to God. Offer God the glory for what He’s doing in your life. Embrace an attitude of gratitude daily.

4. Find ways to serve and encourage others. The greatest joy is often found in investing our energies into serving and encouraging those around us. Use your words to uplift, not criticize. Celebrate others’ victories and successes rather than allowing yourself to be jealous or envious. As you lift up others, you’ll also find encouragement for yourself.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just be the very best version of you. At best, you will only be a poor imitation of someone else, but you can be the greatest you that has ever lived.

The Lost Cup of Ambition

ambition

am·bi·tion – an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. (dictionary.com)

When I was growing up, there was much talk about ambition. I remember being taught (in school and at home) to dream big, learn much, and climb the ladder of success all the way to the top. But something I’m noticing more and more is that people (of all generations) seem to be comfortable with stopping only so far up the ladder. In a sense, it appears that ambition is a lost concept.

Why are we no longer ambitious? Here are five possible explanations.

ROSTER CUTS

In our recent days, difficult economic times have forced companies and organizations to cut expenses. Among those cuts are personnel. Among those personnel are quite often the people who have climbed to the top. Thus, the higher the salary, the first to go. As ambitious “ladder climbers” watch their leaders at the top be pushed off the ladder, they tend to stop climbing out of fear that they might be cut next. In turn, we’re left with a team of individuals who: 1) play it safe rather than take risks, 2) blend in rather than sticking out, and 3) contribute to the problem rather than improve it.

UNCONCERNED COACHING

Another explanation could be a collective lack of enthusiasm. As I converse with young professionals daily, I’ve found a common thread of frustration in today’s workplace. Not only do young professionals feel undervalued for their passions and talents, but they also don’t feel freedom to be creative. Instead, they’re asked to be cogs in the wheel, sticking to a robotic script, which leaves them unmotivated with no desire of growth or ambition.

INTERCEPTED PASSES

We’ve all seen it. You (or maybe someone you know) pours their passion, wisdom, and sacrificed time into building your future at a company. Then, out of nowhere, a manager hires someone else for your coveted (and likely well-deserved) role. Whether it’s an actual qualified candidate or the manager’s personal friend, it’s a stab in the gut, resulting in a major lack of ambition (especially when you have to train the new hire who’s getting paid more than you). Call it poor leadership or bad luck, nothing quenches a person’s ambition faster than being denied rightful opportunity.

RECOGNIZABLE ROSTER

Ever had a boss or manager who constantly asked what you do? Even worse, has a work leader ever introduced herself to you on an elevator when you’ve already met numerous times? It’s hard to be enthused about working hard and being successful when your boss doesn’t even know your name or title. Talk about an ambition killer.

IMPROPERLY POSITIONED

When the wrong players are in the wrong roles, expect ambition to plummet fast. Leaders should be able to observe skill sets and assign roles, but a player’s instincts can often be the best indicator of who fits where. When leaders see a loss of ambition within their teams, re-examining player positions might be of great value when it comes to upping morale, enthusiasm, and ultimately…ambition.

What other factors do you think are leading to a loss of ambition in today’s workforce?

When it comes to ambition, do you need to a fresh cup?

DON’T BE A “SELL OUT”! OR DO?

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Our culture has transformed the term “sell-out” into a negative quality. When musicians or actors submit themselves to the going trend, they are often coined as “selling out” to the popular crowd…often compromising the original attributes that gave them the credibility and appeal for which they’re best known. But is “selling out” always a negative thing? Not in the game of baseball! In America’s favorite pastime, “selling out” is described as sacrificing one’s body for the good of the team.

For many leaders, “selling out” or sacrificing personal goals for the good of the team has become optional. But the truth is, some of the best leaders of all time have been “sell outs.” When it came to the success of the whole team, they put aside personal gain, compromising toward a greater purpose. And most often, when such a sacrifice is made, a leader then gains the listening ear and trust of his or her team that can give them the platform to re-introduce those original goals or plans that set them apart from the beginning.

What do your sacrifices or compromises look like in your leadership role? Are there areas in your role that might require you to “sell out”?

Here are 3 signs that might indicate it’s time to “sell out” in your leadership role:

1. When your current vision isn’t producing positive results
2. When your team isn’t passionate or “on board” with your vision
3. When your followers start to slowly disappear