Stop Doing That

Dan Miller —  February 23, 2012 — 24 Comments
This guest post is by Kimanzi Constable who blogs about finding your passion in your work and provides practical help for everyday work issues.  You can read his blog here. His family has decided to stop “existing and start “living” and move to Hawaii next year as a part of following their dreams.  You can see the daily countdown and read about this crazy adventure here.  If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

I’m going to give you one key to succeeding at work or with your own business.  Stop comparing what you do to what other people or other businesses are doing.

It’s human nature to want to look at what someone else is doing and have that be a determiner for where you’re at, STOP DOING IT.

My story:

I have been blessed to have owned a relatively successful business for the last ten years. Ten years ago I was delivering bread to grocery stores and stocking their shelves for a major bread company. It was a regular nine-to-five job and it never occurred to me to try self employment. As I stocked bread and bagels in the same grocery stores everyday, I would talk to most of the same vendors, one of which was a bread guy who was self employed.

His business was like a franchise, he got paid 20% of the gross sales of all the bread he delivered. In order to own a route, you would purchase a specific territory and any stores in that territory were yours. You are paid 20% of the sales but you’re responsible for all your own expenses. This guy that I talked to everyday told me of a need that the other independent operators had – they didn’t have anyone reliable to cover for them while they went on vacation.

When individuals purchased these routes they paid as much as $200,000 for the territory, so you can imagine they have trust issues with any random person driving their truck and delivering their bread. The guy I talked to everyday had asked around about me and was convinced I was their guy. He told me the ins and outs and showed me the opportunity to create a solid business. As is common, many friends of mine said I couldn’t have a self-supporting business. I went ahead anyway and ten years later, the business is funding the steps to my dream work.

To make a long story short, other people started to take notice of how successful I was and wanted in on the action. I remember a few guys putting out fliers to try and take some of my business and I was freaking out. I went to my close friend (Chaka) and told him what was going on. He gave me some advice that has stuck with me until this day, he said: “don’t worry about what they’re doing or how they’re doing it, you just continue to do a good job and provide great service, and your customers won’t go anywhere.”

He spoke the truth!

Message to business owners:

When you own a business, the natural tendency is to worry about what your competition is doing and how much they’re charging. This is the old model; I want you to try something radically different. Instead of worrying about lowering your prices to match theirs, improve your customer service, make your place of business so welcoming and friendly people won’t want to leave. Your competition may lower their price and yes, they may get a few of your customers, but building a business is about finding those quality customers that aren’t only focused on price but on the whole experience. Those customers that leave you and go to the cheaper business will leave that cheaper business for another cheaper business that has even lower prices than them. While you’ll still be here with those loyal customers that you’ll have for life because of how well you have taken care of them: stop looking at your competition, look at your business.

Message to employees:

Do you feel like every day you’re in competition with other employees at your job? Do you constantly watch how they’re doing certain tasks and try to be better than them? STOP DOING IT! If you think that all you have to do is be better than that person and you’ll be fine, you’re sadly mistaken and you might as well start looking for a different job right now. With the economy the way it is, companies have the option to be picky now. If you want to keep your job, if you want to get promoted at your job, you have to stick out from everyone else. Stop looking at your coworkers and just focus on being the best employee at that company! Great work and hard workers will always get noticed and promoted.

Message for those chasing their dreams:

When you’re following the path to your dreams you always wonder how you’re doing. Usually you gauge your progress by looking at what other people who are on the path as you are doing. Do you have a friend who wants to do the same thing or something similar as you? You guys are friends but let’s be honest, deep down there’s a little competition, it’s our nature. When that friend comes to you and says “I just did this…” outwardly you say “great buddy” but inside you kind of feel like you’re failing, STOPPING DOING THIS! Be genuinely happy for your friend and look at their progress as motivation for you to get your butt into gear. It doesn’t have to be a friend, it could be a random person you know, what they are doing has nothing to do with you. Stop looking at other dreamers! Instead focus on pushing as hard as you can on your dreams, not giving in to your feelings.

What other people are doing and what they accomplish is not an indicator of your success or failure. Even if you made more progress than someone else it doesn’t matter – stop looking at others and push even farther. We spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves and our progress when that time could be spent getting to the next level of our dreams.

We all have been guilty of this at one point or another, let’s stop this together!

Have you been guilty of looking at other people or comparing your progress to theirs? Let us know in the comments:

  • Loren Pinilis

    Wow, I never knew the details of your story, Kimanzi. What an inspiration.
    I think we often don’t realize what our true competition is. For instance, I’ve been involved with promoting local athletic events. Many people would say that our competition was other local athletic events. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Our competition was anything that somebody would do instead of attending our event. That could be going to a movie, going to an amusement park, going on vacation, or just staying at home and channel-flipping.
    When you look at it like that, you can’t possibly keep up with all your competition. The only strategy is just to do the best you can at all times.

    • kimanzi constable

      Very good points Loren, it would be way too hard to compete with all those things. Thank you for reading the post, your comment add’s tremendous value to the post!

  • kimanzi constable

    I want to thank Dan Miller for this amazing opportunity! It’s because of Dan that I decided to stop making excuses and chase my dreams. It has radically changed my life and the lives of my family. He’s absolutely right, 40 hours a week is too long to spend being miserable. I’m on the path to work that I love and I pray others will join this movement!

  • Adam Rico

    Thanks Kimanzi for your great post. I think you’re right, it is human nature to look around and compare ourselves to the competition. However, we know that we arrive to where we’ve been looking. So if we’re focused on someone or something right beside us, how will we ever move forward? Great reminder….mahalo.

    • kimanzi constable

      Thanks for the kind words Adam. I like the point you make about arriving where we’ve been looking, very excellent observation! Next year I’ll be saying Mahalo everyday!

  • Justin

    The last sentence has a grammer error.  It is “We spend some much time”.  Should be “We spend so much time”. 

  • Nathan J. Anderson

    Yes, I have! It’s a creeping sense of foreboding that has followed me much of my life. Thankfully I’ve learned to recognize it now and am more easily able to knock it down as soon as it rears its ugly head.  Thanks for the encouragement! 

    • kimanzi constable

      You’re welcome Nathan. Now that you’ve recognized it, stick with it brother! Seth Godin always says “we need you to lead us”.

  • Dave Anderson

    I love your story and your thought on comparison.  Chip Ingram says, “There are only two things you get when you compare, envy or arrogance.”  That comment has stuck with me.

    I need to be the best at being me and not worry about others.

    • kimanzi constable

      Amen to that Dave, I love the quote. Thank you for reading and adding value to the post. Thanks for the kind words about my story.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Kimanzi, congratulations on having a guest post at Dan’s site! That is quite an honor.

    I have been guilty of doing that. I’ve even been guilty of it in my blog. Looking at other bloggers that are succeeding and growing, I feel inadequate compared to them. But I know I need to stick it out since they’ve been around longer than I have. 

    • kimanzi constable

      Thank you so much Joe and you’re right, it’s a HUGE honor! You’ve got no other bloggers that you need to look at, your blog is awesome. The short time I’ve been on your blog I have learned so much about leadership, I use your advice in my everyday life. Stay aware of it and keep looking forward!

  • danblackonleadership

    Guilty as charged. But I have learned the importance of focusing on my own race. I know if we look at other people we lose focus of what we are doing or should be doing.

    It was great reading about a little more of your story and business.

    • kimanzi constable

      Thanks alot Dan and very great points. I’m happy to see you’re on the right track!

  • Marianne Clements

    Great post! It’s sooooo hard not to look at others and wonder if maybe you are doing something wrong because you aren’t progressing as fast. However, we see people where they are NOW, but we don’t see is how long it took them to get there. Everyone has a different story and is at a different point in their journey, so comparing is only going to get your focus off of where it should be — where you are headed. Thanks for the reminder!

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne Clements

    • kimanzi constable

      You’re welcome Marianne and you’re absolutely right. Thank you so much for reading the post and leaving a comment!

  • Michael

    Kimanzi -

    Great post!  I think we’ve all been wired with the ‘comparison thing’.  But…if we continuously look over our shoulder to worry and wonder about the competition, we’re eventually going to stumble and fall.

    You are so right:  We simply need to look ahead and focus on doing the best we can and create added value to those around us.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • kimanzi constable

      Thank you Michael for the great points, you’re right. We will stumble and fall if we don’t look ahead. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • erinkcasey

    Great thoughts, Kimanzi. It’s so easy to be tempted to do what others are doing. But that’s not what makes us our best! Nicely put!

    • kimanzi constable

      Great points Erin. Thank you for reading and adding value to the post with your comment!

  • henry matlock

    Kimanzi, your words are so true.  Thank you for sharing them with us.  Hopefully we all will take them to heart in order to be our best selves.  Well done!

    • kimanzi constable

      Thank you so much Henry, we can take them to heart. Thanks for reading and adding value to the post by commenting!

  • Laura Headley

    This post has my heart racing as I consider its implications in my 9-5 line of work; in the current climate of education (my industry), educators, schools, and districts are often compared to one another based on student test scores.  The methods used to evaluate many things in education cause a LOT of anxiety. I hear daily about the strain these mandates put on teacher effectiveness and morale. I’ll remember to encourage my teachers to focus on their locus of control, even though in this day and age, it seems counterintuitive. Thank you for expanding my thinking, Kimanzi! Be blessed and abundant!

    • kimanzi constable

      Thank you for adding so much value with your awesome comment Laura, your teachers are blessed to have an awesome leader like you!