Who’s race are you running?

Posted March 9, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

During the height of the 80’s talk show wars, an upstart named Oprah Winfrey told her team to stop looking at Sally Jesse Raphael et al and said “we’re running our own race here”.  There’s no question that her strategy seems to have paid off.

As leaders, there is something to be said for keeping an eye on your “competition”, but spending too much time thinking about what they’re doing and comparing yourself to where they’re going could, in fact, diminish your efforts.

As leaders, having a clear vision and direction for where we’re taking our teams and ourselves allows us to lead from a place of strength.  Spending too much time trying to “catch up” with competitors and comparing your results to theirs is leading from a place of weakness.

Plus “comparison other” can become a motivational dissatisfier that can wreak havoc on your career opportunities.  Consider what happens when a happy, productive employee finds out that their new colleague is earning more than they are a year.  Amazingly, the amount of the money doesn’t seem to make a difference.  I’ve seen people get positively livid over a $500 annual difference.  But that’s the effect of “comparison other”.  And, ironically, it’s usually the person who is highly focused on the “unfairness” of the situation who can find themselves on a derailing downward spiral.

Don’t inadvertently limit your potential or opportunities by focusing your attention on your high performing peer who seems to be getting all the lucky breaks.  The time and attention you’re putting into “keeping score” would be better spent delivering results in your own area.

Comparing ourselves to other people is probably one of the biggest creations of personal misery.  So, take a page from Ms. O and make sure you’re running your own race.  You’re too smart to play catch up to someone else.

Happy leading!

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