Comparing Yourself to Specialists

I was catching up with my pal Cassie Evans when we both touched on something we had discovered independently about ourselves.

We tend to compare ourselves to others in a particular way. We compare ourselves to the best person in a certain field, across all fields.

I’ll compare the writing of a world-class blogger to mine and get discouraged. Then I’ll compare my code against a top-notch engineer, finding I come up short. My talks aren’t nearly as good as this person who gives hundreds of talks a year. And this famous YouTuber makes much better videos than I do.

I compare myself to these specialists, who have improved their skills by saying ‘no’ to everything else but their one thing. They’ve built one massive muscle by intentionally atrophying others.

Meanwhile I feel like I should be world-class in all of these things to be good at my job, or worthwhile in some way.

Comparing myself to others is a terrible habit to begin with. This is just taking that to the next level. Comparing yourself against the world’s All-Star team is begging for disappointment and shame.

It’s something I’m working on, but it was a relief to hear Cassie describe that she does the same exact thing.

I think the additional lesson I want to take away is if I do want to become world-class at something, it requires saying no to other things. Picking the one thing I’ll become great at over the next 5 years and focusing hard on just that.

I like to do everything because my brain gets bored without novelty. Finding self-discipline enough to become excellent at one skill is something I’d like to pursue.