Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Posted by Michelle Anderson on

This well known Theodore Roosevelt quote explains how comparing your work, your life, or anything really, will only serve to make you unhappy.  We get so fixated on what others are doing, how they do this or that better than we do, or what they have that we don’t that we forget to live in the present, forget to have gratitude for what we do have, and forget to appreciate our own journeys. This runs absolutely rampant in hockey, and it is so easy to get caught up in second guessing every decision from which equipment to buy, which camp to attend, to which team to play for.  Players get caught up in obsessing over the stats sheet or the lineup, and parents get caught up in spending thousands of dollars so they don’t “miss” anything.  The next thing you know it’s time to hang up the skates, and you’re left wondering where all the time went.  

There is no single way to an end result, and that is definitely true in hockey, yet a player steps off the ice happy with his performance until he sees a peer’s social media post or stumbles upon some blog post ranking.  Then they start questioning themselves, wondering if they should be doing something different or playing on a different team or in a different league so they start chasing that, forgetting that they are on their own individual path.  

No one is a better you than you, and you have to embrace that fully.  Trying to be someone or something you aren’t is a complete waste of the person or player you are.  Also, if you do manage to pull off making a coach think you are something you aren’t at a tryout because that’s what you thought he wanted, but that isn’t what you turn out to be, there is going to be disappointment all around.  The coach will now have to shuffle his lineup around so you fit in where you actually belong, and you are going to be upset because he told you something that is turning out not to be how things worked out.  

I get it.  Competition is fierce, but you are depriving yourself of positive mental energy that is crucial for your success if you continually compare yourself to others.  You need that energy to focus on yourself and focus on improving your game.  I can promise you that your competitors are not losing any sleep over what you are doing.  Sure, keep an eye on your competition, but leave it at that.  It’s just knowledge.  Don’t attach any emotion to it because emotions are energy, and you need your energy for you.

Stop looking at your competitors as the enemy, too.  Reach out to them and ask for help.  It’s hard, and it can be very humbling, but most of the time people are willing to help.  Compare yourself to others to look for opportunities to learn and improve, not to make yourself feel like you aren’t enough.  You want to build bridges to success, not walls to shut everyone else out.  A rising tide floats all boats. 

If you aren’t a stay at home defenseman, stop trying to be a stay at home defenseman.  Chances are by doing that, you’re ignoring what makes you successful.  Find your unique value and hone that skill because someone is out there looking for that. Make it a goal to do just one thing better than you did before every time you step onto the ice or into the gym.  Appreciate your individual journey, and when you are able to do that, others will, too.  

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