Seth Godin is a bestselling author and great blogger. His posts and pages on http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ are both incredibly smooth to read and thought provoking pieces of writing. Upon perusing his blog I came across a certain blog post from this past December that really struck a chord in me. I have read the occasional quote on Pinterest before that sends a similar message, but Godin’s post caused my mind to dig a little deeper at this subject. His writing is titled My most popular blog posts this year.
The post discusses the difference between being the “best” and being the most “popular”, it cleverly points out that much of the time being the best and being the most popular are two separate things. They don’t necessarily go hand in hand. For instance, an example used in his post is that of chart-topping music; the songs that make up the top 100 list are not officially the best songs produced by those artists or any artists for that matter simply because they were determined to be the most popular.
To me this sends the message to decide what your best work is through self comparisons instead of media competitions. Allow me to elaborate a bit, if you’re one of the many many Americans that made it their New Year’s resolution to shed a few pounds this year then you are probably doing it to become a better or even the best you, you can be. Makes sense right? Then it should also stand to reason that when you work out each day you should base whether you’re doing your best on your previous track record and abilities, look at how far you’ve come and push yourself to places you know you can go. However many people look at the body type celebrated as “most popular” by the media and work solely towards doing what they think that person can do. This, to me, is not a healthy comparison used as motivation, it is instead a form of competition. I believe when people work based on competition with their peers and/or the media they are working towards being the most popular of the group. At that point you have stopped working towards the satisfaction of achieving a greater self and are instead aiming for the prize of admiration from others. This type of satisfaction is more often than not quite temporary and not at all the same as being the best you can be.
In retrospect, I believe that when you base your successes and progress on the person you have been and feel that you ideally could be or even dream of being then you are using a healthy and realistic comparison as motivation to be your best. Comparing your successes and failures with your own previous triumphs and mistakes allows you to better see where you could make progress to become a better self.