Sometimes it’s better not to see what’s coming up from the side and simply focus on the road ahead.
I realized the other day that I’ve been spending way too much time comparing myself to others — looking to the left and to the right — instead of focusing on the road ahead. I already knew about the dangers of mulling over mistakes from the past, but it totally escaped my attention that watching what other people do and then comparing it to what I’m doing can be equally destructive.
I’m also realizing it’s a hard habit to break with its roots planted in (ugh) envy. It starts with observing the competition and ends up with my coveting what my neighbor has: more business opportunities, more money, more lucky breaks … more success.
Now, I don’t know if these entities to the left and to the right really do have more of these things than I do, but that’s what happens when I compare my “insides” with their “outsides.” Somehow, when I’m comparing myself to them, what they have always comes out looking bigger and better.
I think of horse blinders, those shields on a horse’s bridle that keeps it from being spooked by things it sees coming up from the sides or behind. Any shadow, even a rabbit, any movement seen in a horse’s peripheral vision can cause it to rear, panic, bolt or simply dissolve into a nervous wreck. When it’s not unnerved or distracted by what’s going on around it, the horse stays focused on its own path.
I could definitely use my own set of blinders in life because the more time I spend comparing myself to others, the less time I have to travel the road of my own destiny. How can I run my own race when I’m so busy looking at the competition — both real and imagined? In fact, keeping my eyes on what others are doing is a good way to stumble and fall.
One of my favorite photos is of the racehorse Seabiscuit — wearing blinders — as he crosses the finish line four lengths ahead of War Admiral, the horse that, by all appearances, should have been the winner in their famous 1938 race. Seabiscuit was an undersized racehorse from humble beginnings, knobby-kneed and the target of stable jokes, who often came in last in his early racing career. Yet this photo from the famous match race shows little Seabiscuit sailing past the enormous War Admiral, easily winning by four lengths.
The photo sits above my desk as a good reminder that I need to keep my eyes forward, focused on what will encourage me and inspire me. I cannot get discouraged because someone else — younger, prettier or more accomplished than me — is in the same race. In fact, I wonder if Seabiscuit would have won that amazing race if he could have seen the giant War Admiral thundering beside him.
To see the thrilling Seabiscuit-War Admiral race, click the arrow on the video below: