Ken starts a new job as a “ninja developer” (yes, they really use these designations) in new android app startup called Appjitsu. He’s absorbed in all the creative new work and is spurred on by his co-workers. A week passes, a month. Work is amazing. He’s the first ninja of his sort in his company. They love him. Building frameworks is his jam! He is instrumental in getting Appjitsu an angel investment because the product he made is just so amazing.
Enter month three. Ken’s work has got his company loads of money. He gets a bonus. His manager now hires new developers to speed up the dev process. One of them is Ryu (yes, I love street fighter) and he shows a lot of amazing potential. He looks upto Ken for the creative approach that Ken’s popular for. He’s keen to have Ken as a mentor. He’s better at Ken at programming though. Ryu was a well paid developer at Google Ads but shifted because he wanted to work for a younger, more organic organisation. Anyway, Ryu starts blazing the office with his code karate, gets everyone happy again (they’re all fangirls), and even helps Ken get a raise (their work is linked, Ken is the boss, boss = money. Yolo. Be a Boss). Ken doesn’t like this though. He starts comparing their skills and work and tries to find stuff he’s better at than Ryu so that he can caress his ego. Most often than not, he’s failing at this caressing. Coder Riu > Coder Ken 🙁 . Ken stops liking his job since there’s a new better Ninja, his enthusiasm and performance drops as well.
Chances are, you’ve experienced yourself or someone else feeling this. Comparisons are an integral part of an individual’s thought process because of the hyper competitive and comparative nature of our society. Also, we now have this instrument called the INTERNET which basically says – ‘Human did this thing you can never. Amazing’ or ‘My cat is cooler than you’ or ‘I got 500 likes for being a hot girl’. Now, since you’re not a monk I know you compare, just like I do. This leads to you thinking, and since thoughts are basically emotional dominoes it leads to you thinking about your talents or the lack of them and that becomes embedded in your subconscious. This keeps happening, and combining it with the comparisons in school, sports and work, comparing becomes a part of who you are.
The downsides of comparing is illustrated with just what happened with Ken. He was the shizz, but one Ryu, who actually looked upto him and loved him, got his performance down without even intending too. We’re all susceptible to this happening in varying degrees. It also depends on the mental state we’re in. I got screwed in college because I was comparing so much that I actually forgot that I should study for my love of science, and not just to compete. I ended up not studying because I was afraid. Comparing sucks and it sucks again. Just ask Stephen Covey or Tony Robbins who unlike me actually understand human nature and happiness very well.
Nevertheless, my feeble understanding of human nature doesn’t preclude me from figuring out a solution to this human predicament. To save our souls, I have one word for you competitive kids – *Fangirling*. Find a person online, or around you that’s really really amazing at what they go and start loving them. If your share your craft with them, they should be so good and you know that you’re never going to be as good as them and that’s okay. It will be okay, I promise (since they’re just inhumanly good). Keep doing your own thing, never overlapping with this person and at the same time keep idolizing them. But do your own thing too. Spend a lot of time idolizing and the rest of the time comparing your current work only to your previous stuff and see yourself progress. Whenever, you see Ryu be awesome – be like ‘I have some fangirling to do – no time to care about amateurs’. Have fun with Ryu in general though (he’s actually a really nice guy). You’ll see that creatively, and with respect to your motivations, you’ll start doing really well in life.
This happened to me with the art of singing. I used to compare a lot here and there until I came across this amazing YouTube singing sensation – PelleK. He’s just inhuman in his range and ability. Check him out. Also girls, he’s gorgeous. Guys, I present to you a thousand octave range smooth criminal cover.
Whilst fangirling this guy, I kept doing my own thing because I knew I’d never do what he’s doing anyway and got good in my own small incremental way. It also kept me humble I guess which in turn helps me stay focused. I am a much better singer now. Since I’m spending a lot more time fangirling, I don’t have the energy was comparisons with Ryus. I’ve used this technique for a lot of things now -programming, swimming, guitar. Scientifically, I would say that I have increased the upper bounds of the comparison curve. I’m at 20, Ryu at 28 and PelleK at 28,000. Yeah, 8 points is just insignificant and ain’t nobody got time for that!
And my friend PelleK, I look forward to your next video.