What is comparisonitis? You will not find the word comparisonitis in the dictionary, yet it’s a word I constantly use when talking in the online coaching space and with my clients. I use it to describe how we feel when we watch what other people are doing and how they’re showing up in comparison to what we’re doing and how we’re showing up in a similar space.
It’s often followed by questions like “Am I worthy enough?”, “Do I deserve to be here?”, “Who am I pretending to be?”, “How will my voice make an impact?”, and “There are so many other people already in this niche, why will people listen to me?”
I want you to know that the world needs to hear your voice as you speak up, stand out, and make an impact.
Regardless of how many people are in your niche doing similar work, you are the only one that can bring your skillset, your life experiences, your knowledge, and your stories—and that is why you need to continue to show up and share your message.
Acting the Part
When I started my business sixteen years ago, I got caught up following what I saw other business coaches do to market their business. I went out and bought a closet full of fancy suits, a briefcase, a leather bound legal pad notebook, and uncomfortable high-heeled shoes. And I started cold calling by walking into businesses and attending every networking event I could find.
If I’m being honest, I felt like a little girl playing dress-up in her mom’s closet—and like a complete fraud.
I was great at connecting with other people and referring them to business, but I never gave anyone a chance to know the real me, what I did, and how I supported my clients. When I look back, I realize it’s because I wasn’t showing up as myself or letting my strengths shine. I was too caught up in acting and looking how I thought I was supposed to—not in a way that was true to me.
In turn, I was getting clients, but it was sporadic and inconsistent. And the thing that was so frustrating at the time was that I was the president of my local ICF chapter, and I saw other coaches graduate from their coach training, hang out their shingles, and bam—their businesses were full.
Or, at least, that’s how they all acted. And I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t hot stuff, too.
Success Comes from Being Uniquely You
I wish I could tell you I had this kind of Eureka moment a few months in, but that was not the case. Rather than going back to retail and choosing comfort over courage (as Brene Brown would say), I went all-in on getting clear.
I got crystal clear on who I wanted to work with, what my clients really struggled with, and what they truly desired and wanted from their business and life. I journaled like crazy for hours, and it was like the light bulb had finally turned on, and I had found the missing piece as to why I wasn’t signing clients.
When I stopped watching what everyone else was doing and got clear on who I truly was, I started showing up more like myself. Things changed quickly, and I was able to build a business that I loved and on my terms.
Imagine with me, for a moment what would it feel like if YOU were the first coach your friends and colleagues thought about when somebody discussed your niche or industry?
It would be really awesome, wouldn’t it?!
We so often lose ourselves in the process of building our business because we’re so focused on watching what everyone else is doing, and when we lose ourselves we start blending into the sea of sameness. That is a huge disservice to our community, our clients, and also to ourselves.
So how do we stop comparing ourselves and trust that we are worthy exactly as we are and trust that our message is exactly what needs to be heard?
Here are six tips to reclaim your voice and let go of comparisonitis:
- Get clear on your message and how you communicate it. Your message is your brand, so it’s important that you pay attention to how you communicate who you are, what you do, and how you’re the solution to your ideal client’s struggles and desires. When you’re able to communicate your message in a succinct, clear way that shows your unique personality—a.k.a your “secret sauce”—in a way that only you can, you’re able to attract dream clients and stand out in our industry as an expert.
- Trust your gut. Your intuition will never steer you wrong. When we listen to what our heart and gut are saying versus staying stuck in our head and doing what we think we “should” be doing, it allows us to make the right decision. Remember that your thoughts and actions are all you can control, so trust that you’re making the right decisions and continue to lean in to what is best for you. When you know you have a message to share, even if you get it wrong, you step into your power, so keep speaking your truth and pushing forward.
- Share your story. Sharing your story is the easiest way to set yourself apart from the competition and stand out in an overcrowded market. It’s your secret weapon, as no one else has a story exactly like you do. We connect best when we share authentically and vulnerably from our hearts, using our life experiences to differentiate ourselves.
One of the stories that I share in my business is that I was seventeen and pregnant my senior year in high school. As a single mom, I was determined to raise my son and provide an amazing life for him, so I worked hard, got a job in retail, and quickly got promoted to management. I loved the work that I did, but I worked crazy hours and missed so many of my son’s firsts. I knew I wanted to find a career that would allow me to have more flexibility in my life.
This has been a huge connection story for why I started searching for ways to start my own business. I often hear from my clients that they can relate to this because they’re moms, too, or because they’ve had jobs that took up too much of their time. We’ve heard it a million times, but it’s worth repeating: people buy from people they know, like, and trust. Sharing your story is the connection point that earns people’s trust.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. As we reclaim our voice, it’s vital that we do not just think about what we want to say, but that we get up on our feet and walk and talk our message. This allows us to feel more confident when we do have the opportunity to grab the microphone at a conference, to stand and share our introduction at a networking event, or to call people to take action when we’re invited on someone’s podcast.
Recently I was on a coaching call with a client who was struggling with closing their sales calls. We discussed what was happening on the calls, and I was quickly able to identify a few small tweaks they could make. We talked it out, created a script, and then spent the rest of our time roleplaying so they were prepared for the upcoming conversation. They called me several hours later, excited, as they had just signed a new client and said that it was because of our roleplaying that they had the right words and trusted themself to say the right things to move their client to take action.
- Coach yourself. As coaches, we are great at supporting others who are going through hard times or feel stuck, but we sometimes forget that we have the tools within us to help ourselves in those exact moments, too. Ask yourself questions and get curious when you see opportunities and obstacles that might be coming your way. When we shift our self-talk from diminishing to empowering, we’re able to amplify our voice and stay in control of how we respond, ensuring we don’t stay stuck for too long. Identify a few of your favorite coaching questions and use them on yourself the next time you feel yourself wavering.
- Create before you consume. Our confidence and ability to show up as our truest selves can often waver because we watch too closely what everyone else is doing, and we consume content before we even get out of our warm cozy bed. I’ve learned the hard way that when I want to write a blog or a script for a live video I’m going to record that comparisonitis can creep in easily if I consume content before I create it.
Even today, I was working on this article and was about to leave to take my kids to school. I turned on the news and saw the devastation happening from a hurricane across the US, and it shifted my mood. I’ve also had times where I’ve logged into social media in the morning and saw someone else talking about the same topic I was going to write about later that day as a newsletter to my community, and it threw me off and I questioned if I should even write it. The answer is always yes, because we all bring a different outlook to the conversation.
What would change for you if you didn’t take in so much outside information first thing in the morning and waited till after you’ve created for your business before you consume all that the world holds for you?
What would it look like if you stopped watching what everyone else was doing and focused on what felt like alignment for you? What might shift if you spoke from your heart and trusted you had the answers within?
Comparing yourself to others is bound to happen from time to time. After all, we’re humans with all sorts of emotions. The next time you start to feel like you need to hop on the latest and greatest trend, doubt that you’re an amazing thought leader with a message to share, or compare yourself to someone else’s chapter 10, know you’re exactly who and where you are meant to be.
Editor’s Note: Want to know more about Darlene and her work? Don’t miss our interview with her here at Life Coach Magazine.
Darlene Hawley is a business and leadership coach who supports coaches, leaders, and entrepreneurs on how to deepen their business foundation and go after visibility so they can share their message with the world, attract dream clients, and move people to take action whenever they speak.