Competitive Careering

To say I ™m competitive is an understatement. Every time I complete something at work or in my personal life, I immediately begin to evaluate what I would do better next time. Just ask Hubby. We ™ve been married fifteen years and I ™m still evaluating our wedding and reception, looking at things I would do differently if I had a chance to do it over. Not that I ™m looking for that chance, but the perfectionist/competitor in me just doesn't stop.

I ™d tweak my dress a bit, add a trumpet to the music, wear different shoes and most importantly, I ™d eat something at the reception. I ™m sure the food was great; we just didn't get any of it.

With everything I do, it's like I ™m in a race to be the best. Sometimes it's against me, if there's no one else to compete with.

Not sure where I got this competitive streak; it's not like I played competitive sports or anything. It probably started in elementary school with competitive recess. Who can jump rope longest? Climb the monkey bars faster?

Whether it's getting the best grades, being in the best club, having the best outfit, succeeding at work “ I always want to be the best. Even having the best room in a hotel is a big deal. Yep, it can be really hard to live with me. Hubby is not saying a word about this last statement. Smart man.

So you can imagine how I felt upon receiving an email from that ever-popular networking site Linked In, informing me that a former colleague had been promoted to President of a global company. How fabulous! Of course I immediately sent a note offering my heartfelt congratulations.

While I do wish him well and I ™m sure he's very deserving, there's a part of me that's a tiny bit envious. OK, a lot envious. Completely and utterly envious, jealous and every other similar word you can think of.

Thoughts of why him?  run through my head. I ™m just as smart, why isn't this me? What's wrong with me and my career? Waa, waa, waa, I cry at this pity-party. Instead of feeling great for him “ after all this is his news “ I feel caught in a competitive trap, that somehow my career is not as good, that I ™m not living up to my potential and that fate has indeed struck me a raw deal.

The excuses run through my mind. I ™m not able to move half-way around the world for work , Those jobs probably require incredible sacrifice , and my favorite excuse, He must have naked pictures of the executives .

Truth be told, there are probably numerous reasons why he's excelling. He's smart, he has indeed made personal sacrifices and he's worked his butt off.
It's hard not to compare ourselves to others. The things we strive for at work – title, money, prestige, accomplishment “ add up to one thing: confidence. I know, I know, we shouldn't place all of our worth on our career. Perhaps if I had children I could channel some of this competitive energy towards my kids so they could excel at recess.

I know I ™m not alone in feeling less-than-successful when hearing news of someone else's career advancement. Such feelings become amplified if we're stuck in a job we don't like or if we ™ve been laid-off. Good news from others can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Here's a radical idea: let's just be happy with our own accomplishments, rather than tethering our feelings of success to a comparative analysis of someone else!

Did I just hear crickets? I can tell by your silence you think I ™ve lost my mind.

Actually I agree with you. The idea of being happy with ourselves and our career without comparing ourselves to others is powerful, although incredibly difficult to achieve. I find myself at odds with this concept all the time.

Dad always used to tell me just do your best and that's good enough . I wish it were that simple.

© Tami Cannizzaro 2012 All Rights Reserved

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