If you didn’t hear, I ran my first 10K this past weekend. Wait a minute – of course, you heard. I have not shut up for a minute about it. Not because I wanted to brag, but mostly because I finished and was not laying by the side of the road waiting for an ambulance.
NOW – don’t be afraid, I am not going to endlessly talk about my 10K, so you can feel free to read on….I am just going to point a valuable lesson that I learned in the few days since the infamous 10K passed. A very ugly lesson reared its head come Monday Morning.
When I started to run and really actually train back in May, I did not really set any expectations for myself except that I would someday run a half-marathon. I know lofty, but I did not specify when or how fast – just one day, I wanted to run a half. Very much like starting my business back in October of 2010. I wanted to take my products to market no matter how long it took me.
Of course, I set deadlines and dates for myself to track my progress but they are unique and personal to me both in fitness and business. They go like this: This week, I am going to run one 5 mile run…or, This week, I am going to sit on top of whoever I need to sit on top of to finalize quotes for prototypes. I make a conscious effort to never look at what the person in front, next or behind me is doing because it is so distracting.
Then, the 10K happened and yes – I did indeed finish under an hour (which was my very own personal goal), and as I ran down the slick race course wet with rain and really fast runners passed me on either side, I just keep thinking: Do what you do, run your own race. I kept my speed right where I wanted to and ran an even pace throughout the 6 miles.
This is when the trouble started for me. I was so proud of my goal, but it f—ed with my head because I started to think I could have been faster like so and so…or, I could have quickened my pace at mile 3 like that other so and so.
My week became a big swirling mess of planning and plotting to make my miles faster. I am going to get under 8 or maybe 7, but first I have to get under 9.
A brief visit to the runner’s store where everyone was comparing finishing times and all in each other’s business when I just needed to grab a cute reflective vest made me kind of sad. I believe in a healthy dose of personal competition. A force to always do the best that I can and improve on myself personally over time no matter what I am doing.
However, comparing ourselves to others only makes us feel like shit. And I hate feeling like shit. I went from being incredibly proud to feh – in a few days, and that sucks.
I see the same mentality in business, I read about it on Facebook in private groups and hear about it at networking meetings. There is always chatter about someone else doing this or that, but very little on what that actual person is doing. WE can only worry about ourselves. Of course, keep an eye on the competition, but don’t try to replicate or force yourself into their pattern. Just continue to better yourself.
I see the same competitive urges in blogging. Not everyone is going to be Dooce, or Motherhood Uncensored or The Bloggess. It is so clear when someone is trying to imitate someone else – it reeks of bad competition and snake oil. I know. I have read it. I have tried it. It doesn’t work. The only thing that works is to believe in yourself and keep trying to do your best. Find your little niche and carve away at it.
I was further reminded of this notion to stay the course today when talking on the phone with my collaborators and mentors at StartUpNation. The notion to stay the course, be pragmatic and keep pushing forward. In chatting about my products and where the whole process is, I kept saying ‘I am doing it the way it feels right for me.’ I think that is all I can do. Stay the course and not worry about everyone in front, behind, and next to me.
Do what you do. Be who you are. Set high standards for yourself, but don’t base those on the people around you rather on who you are. Do what you do.
Do you set goals for yourself based on others or YOU?
photo credit: Flickr