Do you struggle with comparing yourself to...yourself? I know it’s easy to compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing, but what about when the competition is YOU?
Someone at a recent workshop we taught wrote me about this issue recently.
My biggest competitor is myself. I consistently feel like I could be doing better in all aspects of life.
If you have a hustler’s spirit, which I know you do because you’re reading this, you feel like you’re constantly in the trenches. It can be really hard to take a step back and acknowledge your performance and accomplishments.
Hell, I’ve been deep in the Idea Lemon trenches for awhile now. I haven’t taken a day off since December 27th--that’s 81 straight days! And for real, when you’re deeply focused on something it’s so easy to get caught up in what you’re doing that you feel like you haven’t done anything. But if an outsider looked at you, they’d be like, “Damn that kid is nonstop!”
The problem is when you’re hustling, you always feel like you haven’t done enough. There’s always more to work on, more to chase, more to grind.
I call it the Hamilton Drive.
The Hamilton Drive
If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last 5 months then you know I’m OBSESSED with the broadway musical Hamilton, about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I even wrote a blog post about it a few months ago.
Throughout the musical, Hamilton’s drive is front and center. He’s always hungry, always wanting more. When he wanted to get public approval of the U.S. Constitution, he published FIFTY ONE ESSAYS in SIX MONTHS!
Das dat Hamilton Drive.
He was so nonstop, during one song in the musical, his wife asks him, “Look around, isn’t this enough?”
So what do you do when YOU are the one who feels nonstop? When YOU don’t feel like enough? When YOU have the Hamilton Drive?
Here’s what I do to make sure I feel good about what I’m doing, while still staying hungry for more.
I implement feedback loops. That is, I intentionally create scenarios and environments that enable feedback.
Here's the most basic diagram I found online of a feedback loop
For example, last week we taught our Art of Awesome workshop, and, quite honestly, I felt like Martin and I weren’t at our best. More like, I thought we sucked it up hard. There we were, presenting to a room of about 40 people, and I’m thinking, “Welp, we’re bombing this.”
I could have been left with only my own thoughts to ruminate. But this is a feedback loop, remember.
After the presentation, half the room came up to us to say how much our presentation moved them, made them think differently, and gave them inspiration to take action in their careers. I listen to that feedback closely so I know what’s working best.
This feedback loop let’s me know that, even on what I feel is my worst day, I’m still able to help others, and the specific areas where I’m strongest. The things that don’t get mentioned I know I need to improve. It gets me out of my head, makes me feel good, but pushes me to keep going. Like, for real, I can't tell you how much my day improves after teaching a workshop.
Or look at our online Discover Your Inner Awesome Master Class. There are days when I’m just like ‘fuuuuuuuck we aren’t doing enough for our students.’ But because we’ve designed the class so there is constant interaction, that thought goes away when a student sends me this:
so many feelz
It’s another feedback loop. It allows me to take a step back and say, ‘Yes--what I'm doing is working!’. I can score that against other feedback to know, again, what is most valuable, and what needs improvement.
And even the emails to the Idea Lemon Tribe (are you subscribed by the way? If you're reading this, you should be). That's its own feedback loop. Our tribe members might decide to write me back and tell me their opinions, and how my email impacted them.
And in the instances where I hear crickets, I know that email didn’t really hit like I thought it would, which makes me crave the feedback loop even more, and pushes me to keep going so I can get it the next time.
Nearly everything I do where I’m aiming to improve, I have some sort of feedback loop in place.
The great thing about feedback loops is they are just that, a loop. It’s not a feedback line, meaning you don’t start and then just stop. You make it continuous. You don’t struggle with competing against yourself all the time, but you still retain your Hamilton Drive in order to generate more feedback loops.
How can you implement feedback loops into YOUR life?
3 ways YOU can implement feedback loops
On the smallest scale, do this...
Tomorrow--yes, tomorrow--ask a coworker/classmate who you work closely with what they think you do best. If you don’t know what to say, say this
“Hey I’m doing a professional development exercise I read about, and would love to get your input. What do you think I do best here?”
After they tell you, offer up your opinion of what they do best.
Then, ask if they want to make it a weekly practice.
“The exercise I read about mentioned that creating consistent feedback loops can help us go HAM on our strengths, and work on our weaknesses. Would you want to do a weekly check-in where we give feedback on what we see each other doing best?”
Boom. Feedback loop created.
On a slightly larger but still pretty small scale, do this...
Write a blog post. If you don’t have a blog then publish an article on Linkedin or Medium. Then send it to 3 specific people who you think would want to read it, and ask what they liked best. If you don’t know what to say, say this
I just published this article on my blog/Linkedin/Medium, and I think you’d enjoy it. Would you mind reading it and replying back with what you found most helpful? It’ll help me for the next time I publish an article.
The next time you write an article, send it to 3 new people and ask the same question. And so forth.
Boom. Feedback loop created.
On a larger scale that can actually be large and seems scary but really isn’t, do this...
Turn your blog/Linkedin/Medium posts into a newsletter, and ask for responses from your readers, just like I do.
Boom. Feedback loop created.
If you have the Hamilton Drive, and feel the pressure of competing against yourself, implement feedback loops to take off the pressure and keep the Hamilton Drive pushing forward.
SPEAKING of responses,
What’s one area of your life where you could use a feedback loop to help you? Comment below.
Take care and be awesome today,