When Theodore Roosevelt said, "comparison is the thief of joy," he hit the nail on the head. It is the thief of joy, and a murderer at that. It kills our spirit, our drive, our love for what we do, and for ourselves. It can catch us off guard and hold us captive.
As a designer, despite my years of experience, I'm always my own harshest critic. Why, as designers, are we all chasing an unattainable perfection?
For myself, I'll be honest – I've compared myself to other designers and business owners, thinking how I could ever "design like them", "talk like them", or "lead like them".
I've come to the realisation that the only thing I should be working on or worried about is being the best version of "me" I can be. Being the best designer and leader I can be. I should only focus on my goals and growth along the way.
I knew this business owner that had a fabulous product. But he constantly compared himself to the "other" product down the street that was packaged in a "shiny blue box". So he repackaged his product and placed it into a "shiny RED box" and reduced his price by 20%. I never understood the comparison. His product was unique, eclectic, and a fabulous product in its own right. Be he lacked the vision to see that... and he DISCOUNTED IT!!!
When we waste valuable energy comparing ourselves to others, we are overlooking our potential, and the opportunity for growth in our own life. We are too distracted to notice the gifts in front of us because we are too busy focusing on what others have been gifted with!
Perhaps society, advertising and social media is to blame. I mean, each day we find ourselves exposed to staged realities. Maybe this subconsciously creeps into our work and contributes to feelings of self doubt. Or maybe it's our own obsession with design that forces us to constantly "make it perfect", as we compare our work to the finished design of others.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's never to judge – because we never know the pressure others face or feel. No one is perfect.
"Have no fear of perfection – you'll never reach it." ~ Salvador Dali
At the end of the day, the only thing separating us from growth is our own commitment.