Did you grow up in a home that marked your height on the door frame? And as you grew taller, the marks appeared higher on the virtual yardstick? Do you remember stretching your neck and leaning back as far as you could (and maybe stood on your tippy toes too) to make yourself as tall as you could? Many of us grew up learning that to be taller, or faster, or smarter, or to sing better or to score more points…was a good thing. It’s how we create virtual yardsticks.
“Even as a child, you knew instinctively it was better to be taller than your sister or your brother…and eventually maybe even your mom or dad.”
We enjoyed the praise. Enjoyed boasting about the ribbon on the wall. We loved to see our smiley face and a gold star on the report card hanging on the refrigerator door. We loved to see another trophy on the mantle. Another Facebook post attesting to our greatness. Another “like.”
As we grew up, the measuring stick became something else. We compare ourselves to others. It’s normal. It’s natural. We compare jobs with friends. Compare our neighbor’s cars. We brag about what area of town we live in. Or how many trips to the beach we made this year. At work, we strive to move up. It’s nearly impossible not to, in a modern, goal-oriented, fast-paced organization.
“We measure stuff. It’s what we do. It’s how we plan. It’s how we know if overall goals are attainable.”
Who had the best ROI? Which division created the most wins? Which person had the most calls? Who had the most appointments booked? Which agent closed the most sales? We measure stuff. It’s what we do. How we plan. It’s how we know if overall goals are attainable. Around most businesses and organizations it’s about meeting and surpassing our goals.
If we take the competitive spirit too far, it can create self-defeating side effects, like stress or envy. So how do we avoid taking this too far? For one, we can begin focusing on our own personal goals. At the end of the day, we should look at the big picture.
Just beat yesterday. It’s all we can ask. If everyone beats yesterday, we all get better. The team gets better. And maybe just maybe the team becomes the best team.