How to Stop Constantly Comparing

Recently, I've been reading the book Creative Confidence by the guys over at IDEO, and they tell a story of a 3rd grader who is making a horse out of clay.

The horse was a little chunky, and a girl in the class told him it was terrible. So, he balled up the clay, threw it back in the bin, and never worked on creative projects again.

In my previous email, I talked about fear of judgement from the outside world. So, this story really hit home with me, as I expect it would with anyone who has explored their creative side.

But, what isn't addressed in that story is our own internal judgement. The type that stops you before you even start.

At least in the case of the girl in the classroom, you've given it a try and put something out there to be commented on. But, when our internal naysayer chimes in, we often stop before we even start and never realize our true potential.

Throughout my own life, I'd see this happen all the time when it came to learning how to draw. Sure, I'd trace comic books and draw little cartoons in the margins of my notebooks, but when it came to thinking of myself as an artist, or taking that next step toward mastery, I'd stop myself. 

I'd pull back the tracing paper and see what the 'real' artists had made and think, "I could never do that!". Then I'd go back to focusing on my calculus book, or something. (Like I was ever going to be a mathematician... see I just did it again!)

I'd peek over that fence, see the greener side, and retreat back to my little patch of crabgrass and doodles. 

But, over the past couple of months I've been challenging these long held creative blocks. Pushing myself to be confident in where I'm at, even if I'm at level zero, and focused on practicing new skills and creating every day. 

It took help though.

For starters, my conversation with Srinivas Rao in LA opened my eyes to what life is really like on the other side of that fence, and how our confidence is constantly challenged, even when we find success. That we have to just keep on rolling with the punches. 

I've also surrounded myself with people who are trying to overcome similar fears and create in their own lives. Like my friend, Liz Flores (@lizitto), who has chosen her art over a "safe" career and shares amazing stories of her artistic development along with her masterpieces on instagram every week. 

Then, to top it all off, reading this Creative Confidence book by IDEO, which is giving me the inspiration needed to keep moving forward, no matter what doubts pop into that pesky little brain of mine.

"Let Go of Comparison" - Creative Confidence

This quote really stood out to me, because comparing myself to the best of the best in the past would often stop me in my tracks.

My way of combating this, is to create one-take drawings, and keep moving forward, regardless of how they turn out.

But, what this quote misses is that, while you shouldn't compare yourself to others, I feel you can compare yourself to yourself. An as long as you're improving, you're heading the right way.

When the batman comic above popped into my head on the train, I had to draw it, regardless of how shaky the seat may have been. I was going to stick with my one-and-done approach and just post it, but something in me knew I could do better. I wanted another shot at it, so I tried again.

Then I compared the two. 

If I compared it to, say, someone like Frank Miller, I'd be pretty bummed about my batman. But, comparing version 1 to version 2? Damn, was I happy. 

So keep creating, stop comparing, and watch as you slowly kick ass over time! 

What is one thing in your life that you are constantly comparing against others? (Career, income, fitness, skills, abilities, etc?)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Stay Awesome,
-Martin