As I left work I felt great. The lessons I taught at school were well received, I got to have Chipotle for lunch (man, I love Chipotle), and I was about to kick start a new workout program at the gym after a couple weeks of going through the motions. As far as your average Wednesday, things were going pretty well.
One of the first exercises I did was the deadlift. The deadlift and I have a love/hate relationship. Most days I thoroughly enjoy working my way up to a challenging weight and seeing what I got in the tank. Other days I try to do too much too fast and tweak something in my back. Once the back is tweaked, it’s a slow road back to the top of the mountain. Anyway, on this particular day, I wasn’t exactly full-strength. I was lifting 185 pounds for as many reps as I could, focusing mainly on my form and tempo. Nothing too crazy. Then this big guy comes up next to me and I see him throw 4 plates on each side of the bar. That’s right, 405 pounds! And he had the nerve to do it right next to me.
My ego perked up and started yapping, “Are you going to let this guy just get in here and show you up?!” A year ago, I would’ve responded with “Hell no!” and probably thrown more weight on my bar to try to catch up to this gargantuan man. On this particular day, though, I stopped, took a deep breath, and went back to repping out 185 pounds. I’m thankful that I’m a little more mindful nowadays (still not close to perfect) thanks to meditation and other practices. My ego very well could have won that war and got me hurt. I could’ve hurt myself badly physically from trying to do too much. I also could’ve left a big bruise on my ego when the guy who was big enough to actually lift 405 pounds outworked me.
What I realized after this encounter with this relative of Bruce Banner is that a lot of people get themselves caught in the game of comparison. in my case, I have absolutely tried to lift more weight than I’m capable of in an effort to soothe my ego. Outside of the gym, someone may buy a car they can’t afford to keep up with their friend in the toy department. In another instance, someone might have a baby with their partner before they should simply because all of their friends are starting families.
By getting caught in this game of comparison, we’re only doing damage to our progress. We’re trying to stretch ourselves too fast. If I want to lift 405 pounds, I need to put in the work and training necessary to do it. I can’t just step up and go for it because I saw someone else do it. If you want to buy a Mercedes, save up enough money to make it a realistic purchase. Don’t back into a lease that you can’t afford to impress someone who doesn’t care.
The saying goes, “The only competition you have is yourself.” Played out? Yes. Kinda corny? Sure. But it’s true. We all need to work harder at being better than the person we were yesterday as opposed to trying to match the achievements of someone else. Being aware of your own progress is so much more fulfilling than inauthentically trying to match or best someone else.
In the end, that’s all we really want: fulfillment, joy, happiness, etc. Call it what you may, but it won’t come from trying to copy others. Stay in your lane, but OWN your lane. Make others envy you instead of the other way around.
Until next time,