Comparison is said to be the thief of joy because it can leave you feeling inadequate and unhappy. But that isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to the art of being a good teammate.
Concededly, comparing yourself to others is bad. Weighing what the Joneses have acquired and accomplished to what you have will lead to envy—a toxically consuming reaction that inevitably destroys teams from the inside out.
Relatedly, comparing the current version of yourself to the version that you think you deserve to be is just as bad as comparing yourself to others. Thinking that your hard work, sacrifices, or past accolades automatically warrant success will lead to entitlement—an equally toxic trait.
Victories can be earned through hard work, but hard work does not guarantee victories. There are other factors to consider.
One of my favorite memes is the privilege race video where students are placed on a line and told they’re going to race for $100. Before the race begins, the teacher asks runners to take two steps forward if any of his forthcoming statements apply to them.
“Take two steps forward if both of your parents are still married.”
“Take two steps forward if you grew up with a father figure in your home.”
“Take two steps forward if you never wondered where your next meal was going to come from.”
Though often used to illustrate the concept of privilege, this video also conveys the risks of comparison. Some runners have a clear advantage over others and it is naïve to not acknowledge this fact.
Thinking you deserve to win the race because you worked hard or are the fastest runner ignores the other runners’ blessings. You’ll end up bitter, jaded, or enveloped in a false ego if you don’t consider these factors.
Thus, comparing where you are to where you deserve to be is bad. However, comparing where you are to where you desire to be can be good.
Good teammates engage in this type of comparison because it compels personal growth and prevents stagnation.
They make a point to compare who they are now to who they desire to be in the future—for their team. Good teammates find joy in doing so because they know this form of self-evaluation will lead to them becoming a better version of themself and their team becoming a better version of itself.
Ultimately, the race isn’t against others; it’s against yourself. By comparing the current version of yourself to the potential best version of yourself, you set yourself—and your team—up to experience the joy that comes from pursuing excellence.
You create a situation where your commitment to improvement makes you proud of the individual staring back at you in the mirror, regardless of where you’re at in the race.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.