While working on my website last year, I spent an unbelievable amount of time scrutinizing other people’s sites – coaches, gurus, experts and speakers in the personal development space. Everyone seemed to be so successful doing the entrepreneurial thing for several years.
I remember discussing this obsessive research with a fellow friend and coach. She encouraged me to quit what I was doing. Immediately. If not sooner!
What she said was right. I needed to stop wasting my time on the way other people were presenting themselves and, instead, focus on being my own authentic self. She reminded me that clients are going to want what I have to offer, not some pretty line I regurgitated from someone else’s site.
This was a hard concept for me to grasp.
I spent many years working in marketing and digital media, two realms where compiling and assessing competitive analyses were integral to business.
How was I supposed to put that concept of comparing and perfectionism aside?
Over the past few months as an entrepreneur, I have dedicated a lot of my time to networking, but not just passing out business cards and giving my elevator pitch. I’ve learned about what other people have going on, shared updates on what I’m doing and strategized on ways we can collaborate. There were a handful of people that I put on success pedestals. They appeared to have it all figured out. A published book, a huge social media following, non-stop sold-out events and the list goes on. I was fortunate enough to have access to these influencers and they were willing to meet for tea or juice.
I spent time picking their brains and gaining an understanding of how they built their businesses. They told me about their current projects, what they’re looking to achieve and what has worked or hasn’t worked for them. And what did they all have in common?
After spending time with this small group of people, a group that I had put on very –high pedestals, I realized they didn't have it all figured out. They had some of the same struggles and challenges I did. I was shocked to realize this, but even more shocked when they started turning to me for support, guidance and exercises to evaluate where things stood with their personal or professional lives.
I found it truly hard to believe.
Why were they suddenly reaching out to me? They were the ones on my success pedestal.
“It gives them a false sense of control – if everything looks good, it must be good,”
says Alice D. Domar in her book, Be Happy Without Being Perfect.
Someone I know recently shared a story about his friend winning a major award. This man was really proud of his friend, but more than anything, he couldn't hide his jealousy. He bravely shared his honest feelings to his friend only to be questioned by another mutual friend on how he could possibly be jealous. Turns out, this man was on a few people’s success pedestals himself (including mine).
“When you’re feeling envious of someone else, trust me, her life probably isn’t as great as it looks. The people who appear to have the most going for them often have major problems, but you don't see them because they are working so hard to appear perfect. It’s their way of grasping for control.” Alice D. Domar continues.
From the outside, it may appear that we have it all figured out but deep down we all have our insecurities, challenges and moments of discouragement.
Now, I’m not saying you’re not allowed to be jealous or want to earn titles, awards, trips and offerings that others may have, but what do those things truly provide?
What do you get out of comparing yourself to others and being a perfectionist?
Do titles, awards and trips equate to happiness? Do those things equate to success?
How do you even define success?
After going through these transitions as an entrepreneur – I’ve learned to stop searching for perfection – in myself or with my clients.
I am extremely grateful to have people that I look up to in the world coming to me for advice. After many years or feeling uncertain of where I belong in my professional life, I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.