Being Your Best: Stop Comparing and Start Running

If you want to drain your mental energy, there is one easy way to do so: compare yourself with others. Comparing yourself with others will only give you two things: either you feel proud when you are above, or you feel jealous and intimidated when you are below. As you can see, both are negative emotions that won’t do you any good.

Unfortunately, our culture is full of comparisons. People like to compare themselves with others.

While some people may say that comparing is a way to motivate themselves, I think there is a better way to do that without draining our mental energy. Here it is:

Find a role model and use him as a pacer.

A role model is someone whose quality and achievements you admire. It’s no secret that the way to be great is by emulating those who are great. By finding the right role model, you will have concrete example of the qualities you want to achieve. Since those qualities are now tangible, it will be much easier for you to run after them. By selecting the right role model and running after him, you will quickly improve yourself.

Here are some steps to apply this principle:

1. Stop looking at others’ statistics

This is the way to stop comparing yourself with others. I know this is not easy to do since we have the tendency to compare ourselves with others. But, as I’ve said above, this will only drain your mental energy. So resist the temptation to look at others’ statistics for comparison sake.

2. Look around for someone whom you want to emulate

Instead of comparing, you should find someone you want to emulate. This is perhaps the most difficult step here because it’s not easy to find the right role model. Your role model should:

  • have significant achievements that you want to emulate (in this case, you do need to look at his statistics).
  • not so far ahead that you can’t realistically hope to run after him
  • have performed well consistently for long time
  • have other characteristics that are similar to you or your situation.

The last point is important. There are perhaps some persons who have the achievements you want, but – looking at their characteristics – they are very different from you. In that case, it will be too difficult and unnatural to emulate them. The more similar their characteristics with yours, the more natural it will be to emulate them.

While you can choose some models to emulate, in my opinion it is better to have only one main role model. Just like having one goal make it easier for you to achieve it, having one main role model make it easier for you to emulate him. Of course, you are unique so you also need to learn from other models to find the unique combination that fits you, but still, having one main model is helpful.

3. Look closely at how your role model does things

To emulate your role model, you should find out the details of how he or she does things. Watch your role model closely. Study his work, life, and methods. Try to dissect the traits and actions that make him successful.

4. Set some actions to take based on your findings

You should then turn your findings into some actions you can take. These are the things you can do to bring you closer to your model’s achievements.

5. Set your role model’s current statistics and quality as your target

As I wrote above, your role model acts as a pacer. So set his statistics and quality as your target to run after. Of course, you should not blindly try to match the numbers. Adjust things to match your unique circumstances.

6. Aim to emulate your role model as quickly as possible

To make sure that you do not just sit down and relax, you should make a decision to run as fast as you can.

Your role model may have been ahead of you when you reach his current level of achievement, but that’s fine. The most important thing is you run as fast as you can.

Photo by latvian


  1. A more truthful statement was never uttered — stop comparing and start running.

  2. Thanks, Donald…I just ran across your blog for the first time and am now on the rss feed…good stuff…just what I need to stay on top every day. Sharron

  3. Prolific,
    Yes, this is an important lesson for me myself.

    Welcome to Life Optimizer! I hope you can find useful stuff here 🙂

  4. I am not so sure about #1. Starting and maintaining things in a vacuum isn’t a good idea. Using the running metaphor, lets say I want to be a world class distance runner. So I start running and running and steadily increase my pace, in a vacuum. I run in local races and smoke the competition. Then it comes time for me to step up to the bigs, and run a race with world class runners. How will I do? Probably not very good, unless your local area has a lot of world class runners. Why? Because I have no objective marker for where my pace needs to be. Some people can just simply “do their best” and that will be excellent, but most people need guidance as to what that should be. I would re-word that as “Don’t obsess on others statistics”. Set a goal (ie. 5 min mile for 26 miles) and work towards it.

  5. dtj,

    … but most people need guidance as to what that should be.

    That is precisely why we need a role model. The role model acts as an “objective marker for where our pace needs to be”. We do need to look at the model’s statistics and set it as our target to work toward.

    What I mean with #1 is we should stop wasting time and energy by looking at everyone else’s statistics (for comparison sake) so that we can concentrate on running after our model.

  6. Donald,

    I hope you are well.

    This has to be the best post I have read in the past few weeks (sorry to all those I have commented on!).

    I have worked with several confidence coaches over the years and this is one method they all use.

    Of course, it is just theory now we all have to take action.


  7. I know someone who prefers to deal with role models who are dead. His logic is that you can see the end results of their decisions. Of course this is offset by the fact that they way they did something in the past might not be relevant today.

  8. Andrew,
    I’m doing well, thanks 🙂 You’re right, this is just theory. The most difficult part is putting it into practice.

    That’s an interesting idea, and you have covered both its advantage and disadvantage. So I think it depends on the nature of the things we want to emulate. For things that are timeless (like character), dead role models are good choice.

  9. […] and achievement.What you need is a pacer…Donald, from, shared an article on being your best by stop comparing and starts running. In the article, he emphasize on finding a role model. The role model is someone you want to […]

  10. […] does it happen? I believe one main cause is comparing yourself with others. When you compare yourself with others, there is a good chance that you will be either proud (when […]

  11. […] qué pasa eso? Creo que la causa principal es porque te comparas con otros. Cuando te comparas con otros, hay un buen chance de estar orgulloso (cuando estás por encima) o […]

  12. Thank you for this article. I will let others know about this site so then can learn as well

  13. […] have concrete examples of what you want to be. That’s why it’s important to find your role models. Your role models give you a standard to achieve so that you know where and how far you should go […]

  14. […] if you have concrete examples of what you want to be. That’s why it’s important to find your role models. Your role models give you a standard to achieve so that you know where and how far you should go […]

  15. […] much easier to achieve something if you have role models that become examples for you. Instead of having a lot of abstract ideas of what you want to be, you […]

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  17. Brilliant stuff.I swear am going to copy and paste in my subconscious mind!

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