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I debated writing this post for a long time because I didn’t want to come off as an over-competitive freak. However, I decided that it was better to be transparent rather than to only highlight the positives qualities about myself. I HATE losing. I get jealous and motivated when I see someone doing something better than I am.
This mentality has certainly helped me get to where I am today, but it has also caused me to over-criticize my work and strive for absolute perfection. However, my recent discoveries might indicate that I’ve been using the wrong metrics to judge myself. What if I’ve been wrong this entire time?
Deep in the Rabbit Hole
If you’ve been reading my blog from start to finish, you’ve probably realized that I jump into new ventures head first. I actually enjoy tackling multiple projects. Yes, sometimes I fail, but these failures have sculpted me into the man I am today. Analysis paralysis is definitely not my problem, it’s my fear of imperfection and inferiority.
My fear of second place works like this:
When I first start out, I’m okay with being “worse” than the leaders in the industry … because I’m just a newbie, right?
But, when I start to get really deep in a certain rabbit hole, that’s when my fear of second place kicks in. I start to look to the leaders in that space and wonder “What the hell am I doing wrong? Why am I not producing at the same quality as these people?”. This, in turn, causes me to double my efforts in order to try to “catch up” to the dominant players.
Sure, the quality of my work increases exponentially and I pick up new skills along the way, but this is certainly not the mindset I’d like to approach self-improvement from. But why do I even consider myself ‘second place’? What if I’ve been looking at the wrong metrics this whole time?
Metrics Mean Everything
Clearly this fear of second place is not healthy and I’ve been constantly striving to change my mindset. One of the thoughts that has recently populated my mind is “What if I’m using the wrong metrics to compare myself?”.
In every field, there is typically a ‘standard’ metric that indicates success and performance. In blogging, it’s page views and revenue. Product sales are the dominant metric in the retail business. In weightlifting, you’re judged based on your ‘maxes’. Your GPA and grades showcase how ‘smart’ you are. But why must you yield to only these certain metrics? The truth is, you don’t!
I used those examples because those are the fields in which I have struggled with the fear of second place the most. But, after internalizing my personal goals, I realized that I had been using the wrong metrics the whole time.
In the blogosphere, the dominant metrics for performance are unarguably revenue and page views. But who says it has to be that way? Did Zeus come down from Mt. Olympus and make a royal decree in 5,000 B.C.? Hell no!
After my first few months in the blogging world, I became jealous of the successful blogs. I would spend hours curating content and editing the site in a frantic attempt to catch up. But why? Did I really need to match their page views and blog revenues? Was that really going to make me happy?
It wasn’t until recently that I realized I needed to change my metrics. I didn’t actually care that much about page views or blog revenue. I cared about helping people! Receiving an email from an eager 15 year old or helping an aspiring entrepreneur launch his or her business was much more fulfilling than achieving arbitrary page view or revenue milestones.
I’ll admit, it’s still a work in process, but this shift in mindset has been instrumental in correcting my unhealthy fear of second place.
You’re Not Doing as Bad as You Think!
Metrics mean everything. If you think you’re underperforming in your niche, identify which metrics you are using and determine whether or not they align with your goals and values.
Maybe you didn’t earn the best grades in college, but if your goal was to become an expert in computer programming, and you did, then that’s what matters! Maybe you don’t lift as much as Jay Cutler, but your goal might be to maintain a lean, healthy physique, not become a weightlifting monster. It’s all about how you measure your achievements.
As cliché as it sounds, everybody is great at something. We each have our individual talents and we are all winners in some regards. You don’t have to compare yourself with or compete with the so-called leaders in the industry just to be happy. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way. But hey, that’s what life is all about … learning from your mistakes.
I’m slowly starting to come around and realize that maybe second place isn’t so bad. As long as I’m accomplishing (or striving for) my goals and dreams, then I’m winning every single time. Are you struggling with the fear of second place? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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