How to Overcome Comparison-itis

I see a lot of people comparing themselves to others. And, as they say, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’.
The problem is, in the coaching industry we tend to compare ourselves to other coaches in the industry who are usually way ahead of us in their business journey.
This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, a diminished sense of self worth. All this can be paralysing, making you want to hide away and give up.
It can really hinder your progress and your success as a coach.
I call it comparison-itis.
But don’t worry, this condition is luckily not incurable!
Let’s explore some strategies to overcome your comparison-itis so that you can thrive as a coach.

Step 1 Recognising the trap

As coaches, we are bombarded with endless social media content from other coaches.
It can feel like the entire world are coaches and that they’ve all got their stuff together. It’s really easy to feel small in comparison, and intimidated, especially if you are just starting out.
But, you know, no matter how far along you are in your journey, there is always someone who is further along than you and who seems to have it all sussed.
And, don’t forget, every coach’s journey is unique. Success looks different for everyone. Maybe you don’t even want what they have. It’s just that tendency to always want more.
If you are able to recognise what is truly important to you, you might already have more of it than you realise.

Part 2 Focus on your own journey

Instead of fixating on others’ achievements, shift your focus to your own journey.
Really celebrate your every win, big and small.
Acknowledge your progress.
Remind yourself of the impact you have made on your clients’ lives, on every single call, in every insightful comment and in every thoughtful gesture you make.
It is hugely impactful to ask ourselves, “What went well?” because our brains are trained to first look for what didn’t go well. Asking ourselves a positive question kickstarts our brain to seek the answers. Looking for the good news.
This is so important I really prioritise it in my programme, The Business of Coaching, asking ourselves, what went well? What could have been better and what did I learn? I can’t stress enough how much I encourage this practice.

Part 3 Embrace collaboration

Rather than viewing other coaches as competition, embrace collaboration, reach out, become friends, share your knowledge.
This approach not only helps you to learn and grow, but it also builds a supportive network.
It’s my favourite part of my community, along with my clients.
I hear everybody saying the same because, if you can broach it from that mindset, you will do so much better than you would if you were keeping your ideas and material secret, not sharing, because then they don’t share theirs with you. It’s a two-way street.
I work with the most amazing people who have huge strengths.
One person’s great at TikTok. Another’s great at public speaking, and another is great at cold emailing corporates. We can all share those experiences and learn from each other, leading to more of us succeeding. I love the phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It is so true!
I really recommend that you have this positive, collaborative mindset rather than the mindset of worrying that someone’s going to steal your ideas.
To be honest, most ideas are out there already, and easily accessible via online searching, so there is no such thing as stolen ideas.
But, you are unique and no-one will do anything exactly as you will. We all put our unique twist on things.
Even if you feel that someone is doing the exact same thing as you, don’t take it personally and keep trying to change to be different, or you’ll never succeed in business.
I promise you – I have seen people in my community create amazing work together and go further than they ever would have if they were trying to do it alone.

Part 4 Reframe comparison as inspiration

When someone else is doing well, you can either compare yourself negatively, saying it’s all right for them, it’s not like that for me. It’s not fair.
Or, you can choose to be inspired by their success. Everyone started where you are now. No social media following. No clients. No niche.
So, instead of allowing it to deflate your confidence, reframe it as inspiration. It’s an example of what is possible out there.
I know that if it’s possible for them, it is possible for you too.
Don’t look at those successful coaches in your field as rivals, look at them as role models.
Study their strategies. Learn from their experiences. Adapt their techniques to suit your own unique style.
The adapting part is crucial. For example, if you are launching a low-cost membership programme, it’s really hard to make this pay when you’ve got no audience. You may only get two people sign up and yet you’re putting the same effort and work and time in as someone more established than you who has 1,000 people signed up. So, be careful not to offer exactly the same as someone who’s further along their journey than you.

Part 5 Focus on your unique value proposition

You have your own unique value that sets you apart from other coaches.
It’s really important to identify and emphasise what makes you special – your unique skills, your coaching approach, your niche, your expertise, your personality and your strengths.
There is so much that you think is easy because it is easy for you and you’re good at it. You don’t realise that other people might really struggle with the same thing. And vice-versa.
So, make sure that you communicate your value to potential clients, highlighting how you can help them to achieve their goals in a way that no one else can. What are your values? What are your strengths? What are you naturally brilliant at?
If you’re finding it hard to think of things, ask others around you. It’s sometimes hard to see our own strengths.
It might be an interesting exercise for you to take a free online strengths finder test and personality test.
It’s a great way to get clarity on your strengths and remind yourself that you’re just as good as everybody else.

Part 6 Seek feedback and improvement

Continuous improvement is a really strong value of mine. When you are a coach, you need to stay relevant. I’m sure, as a coach, you are already in this personal development world, constantly wanting to improve. You already have this mindset.
Seek feedback from people that you know – it will be so valuable to hear other people’s opinions of you and the positive feedback they will no doubt want to share with you, because it’s so rare that we allow ourselves to take a moment to realise what we have achieved.

Part 7 Practice self-compassion

I went to a wonderful Brene Brown self-compassion workshop, and they talked about doing things like putting your arms around yourself and giving yourself a hug, and putting your hand on your heart or your face to help you to feel loved.
It really does work. So be kind to yourself, and acknowledge that everyone has their own path and timeline.
Just because someone else might be gaining clients in their first month, it doesn’t mean that you will, but guess what? You might be still going, a year down the line, and they may have given up.
Everyone is on their own journey and we have no idea what life has in store for any of us.
Also remember that everyone has their ups and everyone has their downs.
No matter what it looks like on the outside, if you are comparing your inside – your feelings and your emotions – to somebody else’s outside, you will always lose because we don’t know if they’re experiencing those negative feelings. We are only seeing their showreel.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s the only way to grow.
Think about what you can do to practise self care. Can you do affirmations or meditation?
What is it going to take to make sure that you are prioritising you and training your brain to look for the positive?
Personally, writing in a gratitude journal every night has really helped me. I genuinely think it has retrained my brain because, now, my default response is to see the good in everything and to appreciate things.
It takes time to evolve our habits, but it is so worth it.
To summarise, comparison-itis is really challenging, especially when you first start out but, with the right mindset and strategies, you can overcome it.
I very rarely think about how anyone else is doing these days. I don’t scroll on social media. I don’t look at anyone else and tell myself they’ve got it all sussed.
Let’s all embrace our unique strengths, focus on our own journey, collaborate with others and strive for continuous improvement.
And, remember, whoever you have been comparing yourself to probably had exactly the same journey as you before they got to where they are now. It’s just that that part of their journey wasn’t on show!
 
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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.