Perspective is a funny thing.
Even if you disagree with everything else I share below, you’ll agree: an hour with a loved one can feel like 5 minutes; an hour without them like a year.
Perspective is a powerful thing.
Let’s say you try to launch a business. Within a year, you don’t manage to make it sustainable, and you have to drop it and take a full-time job in order to pay your bills.
One person sees it and calls you an entrepreneurial failure. Another one calls you brave, celebrates your drive and ambition, and hopes you’ll try again in the future.
Choosing which perspective will be your own is entirely your choice.
And that’s the part that’s tricky. Because if you call yourself a failure for, well, failing at something, you’re placing the next move on some external force you have zero control over and calling it a day.
You also aren’t acknowledging that this was your chance to learn and potentially do something better next time.
(If this is a mindset you need more of, you’ll love Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo.)
By taking a perspective that your unsuccessful attempt is an ultimate failure, you’re also:
- Comparing yourself to everyone who ‘made it’
- Punishing yourself for even trying
- Closing the door on potential opportunities
Let’s talk about the ‘made it’ part.
A product launch that brought in $10,000 could be a failure for a $2 billion business, but a raging success for a new business.
A 4-hour marathon could be a failure for someone who used to do 3:30-hour marathons, but a success for someone who never thought they could run for even 30 minutes.
Someone who insists on working 10 hours a day will look down on the person that’s happy to finish working by 4 pm.
When we compare ourselves to someone else’s perspective of excellence, we give them the power to make us believe we’re not good enough.
Finally, this isn’t just about comparison and its counterproductive impact.
It’s also about focusing on, and glorifying, massive results and big leaps over the consistency of showing up and taking small steps every chance you get.
Because when we look at the big results others have apparently achieved overnight, we forget to focus on our own daily progress, and we can’t bear the idea of delayed gratification. We look for it instantly—otherwise, we’ve failed.
So instead of looking for instant gratification and an ultimate goal, ask yourself about the path you want to be on; the direction you want to take in your career, hobbies, health, relationships, and everything else.
(For inspiration and an action plan on how to do exactly that, check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.)
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent minutes, days, or months comparing where you are today with where others seem to be based on their flawless social media profiles, portfolios, and resumes.
From where I’m standing, I’m not any better because of that. So I hope you take this reminder:The only perspective that matters is yours.