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Career Insights for Women in Business

The Trap of Comparison

Two business women walking in the big city. One is on her cell phone.

Two business women walking in the big city. One is on her cell phone.

Comparison is the thief of joy. ~Theodore Roosevelt

I remember it well. The members of my business club and I were sitting around the living room at our ski chalet in New York. I was elated that we’d just laid out my next steps for the remainder of 2016 and into 2017.

For years, I’ve said I wanted to teach/speak, write books and host retreats, but I wasn’t doing it at least not at the level I wanted. Of course, I would dibble and dabble in it and then I’d go right back to doing what I thought I “should do” in order to build a successful business.

However, sitting there in New York, I said enough is enough and I drew the line in the sand and said “no more building a business you don’t love.”

I shared with the group, a highlight of my brunch conversation with my colleague Mark this past June. He and I were sitting out on the patio of a restaurant, enjoying the beautiful Utah sunshine and pancakes, when he asked me a question that forever changed my trajectory, “Nadia what if you put all of your time, energy and resources into doing what you love? Imagine how different your business would look.”

Wait… what?! Can I really do that?

We spent some time brainstorming and talking numbers. After all, Mark is THE Budget Nerd.

I could not get his question out of my mind for months! I was so stinking excited and scared out of my mind all at the same time.

It may seem like a crazy question, but I’d been told one too many times that what I wanted “wouldn’t work”, that it wasn’t “sustainable” and I needed to figure out another way.

I was encouraged to just follow “the formula” and success would appear. But I couldn’t shake it. This is what I longed to do.

But did I have the courage to just go for it?

So, with the help of my fellow business club members, we mapped it all out. We discussed how it would look, price points, strategy, etc.

I was so excited at the end of the discussion because this was my path to freedom and fun in my business.

Before we departed New York, we each made a list of our next five steps and five things we would NOT do. Of course, my list had six things to NOT do one of which was to compare my plan to others.

When I returned to Phoenix, I was excited and focused. I immediately sprang into action and began quickly crossing items off my list.

Then one day I realized I wasn’t as focused or motivated about my new plan. New doubts began to creep into my mind. Did we price the programs correctly? Was I charging too much? Too little? Is this the correct target market? Would this really work?!

All of my efforts came to a screeching halt and I slowly started undoing all that I’d done while in New York.

Fortunately for me, I’m connected. I received a seemingly random call from Stella Orange, a fellow business club member, to check on me.

I reluctantly confessed to her about my lack of progress and how I’d digressed. I realized that I’d walked right into the trap of comparison, despite my best efforts not to go there.

She listened compassionately, assured me I wasn’t alone, and then reminded me that I was a pioneer and pioneers don’t get roadmaps.

Yeah. Let that sink in for a moment.

A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across the following affirmation:

I release my need to compare myself to others. I judge myself by my own standards of success. I am ENOUGH just as I am. (Thank you Felicia)

It reminded me of how often we as women can so easily get caught in the trap of comparison; how we can often feel that despite our best efforts, we still aren’t enough.

Whether you are a pioneer or not, the temptation to compare is ever present, particularly when you decide to step into unfamiliar territory.

As we prepare to go into 2017, may I encourage you to leave one thing behind and that is the need to compare? You are an original and the mere fact that you have the dream or the vision means you have what it takes to make it happen.

In the words of Bishop T.D. Jakes, “no one can do what you do the way you do it when you do it.” (That’s the Nadia version of what he said.) When you look at it like that, there simply is no comparison.


final_nadia-brown-8931-editDr. Nadia Brown is an authentic, bold champion for women business owners and those women who desire to become business owners. She is the founder of Doyenne Leadership Institute, LLC.

Through her workshops, intensives, and retreats she helps women break through the glass ceilings they encounter in business by helping them build profitable and sustainable businesses. When it comes to sales, women come to her timid and shaky about going after the money – they leave her strategic, strong, emboldened and most importantly, paid.

She is the author of Leading Like a Lady: How to Shatter Your Inner Glass Ceiling and lives with her husband Toby in Phoenix, AZ. Find out about upcoming events at www.doyenneleadership.com/events.

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