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The comparison trap in business — Lesson #3

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Teddy Rosevelt must have had a really good reason for making sure a bold statement. Google doesn’t really tell me much about the context but I can imagine it was after a low point realizing that he was caught in the comparison trap.

Being a service provider

I entered into this business as a service provider. I didn’t know any other method or model and this one felt like it was the one I was supposed to do all along. I learned how to cater to people’s need, write really great emails, and serve like nobody’s business. I had been in retail for a long time and this just felt like online retail. I had my system, model and felt really good about the direction, until one day when I didn’t.

Income reports used to be all the rage in the online world. Bloggers and course creators would post them as a way to show how much they were making, what was making them money and in turn you would either buy that affiliate product or their course so you too could make money. They were amazing to read. Someone pulling back the curtains on their numbers showed you what was possible. I’m fairly certain this wasn’t a flex as to how awesome they were but really just a way to show that if they could do it you could too.

The comparison trap door opened

Here’s where it broke down for me in late 2015. I opened one of the famous income reports and scrolled through the list to see how much this person was making on their course. It was bonkers! My eyes got really big and the ideas flooded into my brain like a tsunami. The comparison trap door was now open and I was falling through. They were teaching on the exact thing that I was doing in my business. But I was serving people one-on-one and they were teaching people. Really different model but my Enneagram 3 kicked into high gear and I instantly thought of ways to achieve world domination.

I was working with a coach at the time who was really pushing me to get systems set in place, and we had done a really good job at that, but I was aching for this course model and thought I could do both. I thought to myself, “I work on Pinterest accounts all the time. How hard can this be?” I was also slightly judgey about the way they were teaching. (That’s another lesson for another day.)

He graciously allowed me to dive into a 101 course but he wanted me to really think through the flow, content, system, and tools. Pretty soon this was turning into so much more work than I thought. I couldn’t record a lesson without stumbling on my words and I had to re-record over and over. (For the record, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that bad at all.) I was learning tech, emails, tagging, etc…Ugh! It was no longer fun. But my drive to win kept me moving forward.

My first online course

I released the 101 course and the sales were small. I was devastated. I thought for sure tons of people would buy my course and I would end up with an income report as awesome as the ones I had seen. I went down into a black hole of judgement against myself. But it didn’t stop me from trying it again. I was determined to win.

In 2016, I launched the Simple Pin Mastercourse with a webinar model, it went over okay. The income report measuring stick loomed in my head and it wasn’t good enough until I beat that number.

Then in 2017 I released a series of workshops in another attempt to beat this illusive income report. I made $11,000 and I cried. I literally cried on a call with my coach. He did the one thing I needed someone to do. He said, “Are you kidding me, Kate? You’re crushed over $11K you just added to your business because you didn’t beat someone’s income report. How much did you make with clients last MONTH?”

“54,000,” I responded.

“So you’re telling me that you’re upset about $11,000 you just made in addition to what you’re already making because you’re comparing your business to a course creator’s business?” said Coach.

“Yes.” Hanging my head in shame. But good shame, if there is such a thing.

I needed someone to call me out of my driving need to achieve success by winning against someone else who had no idea I was competing again them. Our business models were apples to oranges. I had no business chasing after her success.

Getting back to my roots

In 2018 I made the decision to completely shut down my teaching for one reason, I needed to start fresh with a model that had my students in mind first. The comparison trap door needed to be shut. This shoved my eagerness to win against someone else out of the way and make room for the model that was right for me. This decision to close them gave me the chance to think, process, evaluate, and take joy in the business model that I had. It was freedom!

While processing my love to teaching and coaching with some mastermind friends they told me I should do a membership model of teaching. To be able to connect with students and change the curriculum when I wanted was freedom. Plus, if I needed to coach them past their struggles, I had time in live calls. It felt like what I was meant to do all along, just like the services did in the beginning.

Don’t chase someone else’s success. Chase what fits you. The people you serve will see that and feel it.

If you’re new to the series, lessons from an accidental social media agency owner, you can read why I started them here.

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