As a small business owner, I always think it's a good idea to see what other people in your space are doing. Actually, whether you own your own business or not, it's a good idea to know what's going in in your industry and with other professionals like yourself.
As I do this, though, I run into an internal comparison process where I'm looking at how I do my work and how other people do their work and I start thinking "Why am I not more like them?"
So in the career space, there are a lot of "motivational" types--people who can really jazz you up and get you excited and motivated. At least that's what their blogs and workshop copy tell me. And then I read what I write, which is quieter, not so "woo woo" and I start thinking "Hell, I need to jazz this stuff up! I need to make it all sound more exciting. I need to show them how I'm fun and exciting and will give them great energy!"
But here's the thing. While I can be fun and entertaining, that's not really the strength I bring to career work. I'm not here to give you energy where you can't find any. I'm here to provide the space--the container, if you will--for you to find your own energy, motivation and inspiration. I'm not the "woo hoo, GET PSYCHED!" kind of person at all. I'm more reserved, more gentle, more focused on finding out where you are and coaxing you into finding your own energy and passion and excitement. Sometimes this happens quickly and sometimes you find it more slowly. Either way, I try to be there.
One of the major tenets of career resilience is to "Clarify"--that is, being clear about what you bring to the table. What are your strengths and talents and how do they intersect with the work that you do? For me, my talents are not in the "woo hoo!" They are in the spaces between--in trying to ask questions, get you thinking and spark your own internal "woo hoo!"
For all of us, I think the value of clarity comes when we are clear about who we are and how we put our own special stamp on the world. It's easy to get caught up in comparisons, but I've found that's a sure road to an unsustainable career. We start trying to be someone we're not, rather than being more of who we really are. And the more we strive for that inauthentic role because it's "expected," the more out of touch with ourselves we become and the deeper we sink into our weakest areas.
So, my advice for today--and it's partially advice for myself here too--is to stop the comparison game. Stop trying to be someone you're not and start being more of who you are. That's the only way you can maintain your own personal resilience. That's the only way to build a sustainable career--and a sustainable life.