There’s an old image of dogs lined up at a racetrack, getting ready to compete with a cheetah. The goal was to find out who’s faster.
When the race started, the dogs started to zoom ahead, while the cheetah stayed comfortably in its spot.
Everyone was surprised that the cheetah didn’t move out of its place. They asked the race coordinator, “What happened!?”
After seeing the picture, he responded with “Sometimes trying to prove that you’re the best is an insult. The cheetah uses its speed to hunt, not to prove to dogs that it is faster and stronger.”
While we can see who is technically faster, the dog or the cheetah, we can’t really compare them because they’re different creatures. They have different motivations and goals.
A little healthy competition is great, but think about why you’re competing. You don’t have to compete unnecessarily to get people to understand that you are the strongest.
When you constantly compare yourself to those around you, you lose touch with what your unique skill set is. This is when we fall into the cycle of trying to prove ourselves.
Understanding your unique skill sets and motivations helps us to use our energy efficiently so that we’re not always trying to seek outside validation.
Use Your Energy Wisely
Spending time thinking about how to fit in, how to impress those around you, or feeling like you need to prove yourself are all big energy suckers.
Sometimes we don’t realize just how consuming our thought processes can be. Think about how you feel when you’re scrolling through social media, or going through “what if’s” in your brain, or having anxiety about the future. All of these use energy. So does comparing yourself to others.
Comparison is exhausting, and it doesn’t make you feel any more valuable. If anything, it hurts your sense of self-worth.
Think about how you want to use your energy. Do you want to compete in a race that doesn’t help you move forward in life, or do you want to spend time doing something that helps build your confidence?
Hone in On Your Skills
You have a special set of skills that are unique to you. You have the ability to deliver messages and ideas in a way that only you can. Understanding and celebrating our unique skills and abilities help us to understand our value, without comparing ourselves to those around us.
Maybe you are an incredible listener and can make people feel heard and seen, or you are someone who is constantly coming up with new ideas, or you’re great at entertaining and can engage a crowd full of people with your charisma.
Hone in on what your unique skill set is and use those innate tools to go after your goals. Let your abilities speak for themselves, instead of trying to play someone else’s game.
When you understand that we’re not in constant competition, we can see that value doesn’t come from competition, it comes from within.
Value Comes From Within
It may be cliche, but that’s because it’s true. Value really does come from within.
We can search and search and search for outside validation. Wait for someone else to deem us the “winner”. Try to prove ourselves in every arena. But at the end of the day, all that means nothing if you don’t start from within.
When you have a firm sense of self-worth, you start to lose the need for outside validation. Instead, you move from through the world with a spark, an ember of creativity, you focus more on the world and people outside of you, instead of thinking about yourself all the time.
Sometimes it feels like a catch twenty-two. Like you need outside validation to feel worthy, but that’s not true. You can get out of this cycle, and understand that your value is something only you can give to yourself.
We all want to feel accepted and worthy, but if you’re constantly seeking approval from others, you’re never going to truly feel valued.
Being Your Authentic Self
When you can be your “authentic self”, you start to understand your value.
What is your authentic self? It’s honest, clear, direct, communicative, and whatever other skills and abilities you have that make you unique.
If you are focused on always bringing your best self to the table, you lose the need to try to prove your value. Your value lies in you being your most authentic self and focusing on what you do best.
So remember the lesson we learned from the cheetah. Only you can be you. Use your time and energy wisely, and your value will be apparent to everyone around you.