Studies have shown that as humans it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others.
Really? We had to do studies to find that out? Comparison is an everyday reality – if we are willing to admit it.
My 6 year old son plays football. I promised my wife that I would behave on the sideline, but seriously, there is a game to win.
Whether the opposition has mastered their defensive game, or have skills and tactics for scoring goals, there is always one thing that makes them a winning team.
They have more points on the board at the end of the game.
Regardless of my nature to want to understand what the other team (of 6 years olds) is doing better than my own, the secret to “what makes a winning team” is simply having more points than the other.
There are 3 things that highly energetic 6 year olds have taught me on cold, winter Saturday mornings about comparison:
Apples for apples?
Football is simple – get the ball into the net without penalty and you score a goal. Do that more times than the opposition and you win the game.
But where else in life does that apply! How do I compare my family, children and parenting against another, or my ministry outcomes versus another – it is like comparing apples to oranges. There are too many variables and differences to make comparison an effective tool.
Who is yelling from the sideline?
I’ve played 4 seasons of football in my life. I was too young to remember 2 of them; the other 2 were in a social team in which my friends felt pity on my lack of sporting skill and included me to keep the bench warm.
It takes a lot of restraint for me to not yell out all my wisdom and experience to our little team of 6 year olds.
You know, from all my years warming the bench on a football field. But hey, I also still happily advise many athletes across many sporting fields from the comfort of my lounge.
But who is keeping score?
That’s the great thing about 6 years old playing football – there are no winners and losers, in fact we don’t even keep score.
(Of course we do – when our team is winning)
But when comparison is shifted to be observation, analysis and understanding – well that is a different story.
Comparison is all about creating scores when scoring doesn’t, or shouldn’t even exist in the game. Because, everyone is a winner. In the under 6’s – we celebrate a game played well.
Celebrating the success of others (who may even play a different sport on a distant field) is chalk and cheese to comparison.
Celebration gives us the opportunity to make OBSERVATION about what allows them to score the goals that are relevant to winning the game they are playing.
Celebration means we can ANALYSE what they do well – without any comparison with what we don’t.
And celebration can bring UNDERSTANDING as to how we can score more points in the game we play. Because you can’t play your game, if you are watching someone elses.
Why fight our human nature? Instead turn comparison into the opportunity to observe, analyse and understand, so you can win your game, on your field.