In the article we’re discussing, the author says . . .
I know the feeling. Take Tina Fey. I do not know Tina Fey, but we’re around the same age, have similar coloring and are known for being funny—at least she is. Sometimes it really bums me out, the feeling that I Am Not Tina Fey and Never Will Be. Other times, I think about her accomplishments and kick into high gear, logging extra hours at my computer. Why do I, and others, vacillate between feeling inspired and wracked with despair?
Her question is reasonable, but more important is the realization. In this case, that realization is an emotional roller coaster throwing the talent’s heart into his/her throat every-so-often. Talent all know that queasy disappointed feeling that sends the mind into a pit of despair. She goes on to explain the beautiful and horrific consequences of human nature . . .
Because excellence in others expands our sense of possibility, giving us a positive surge of energy–unless we’re too wrapped up in a knot of negative self-comparison to gain that vicarious boost, says Shane Lopez, a psychologist and senior scientist at the Gallup organization. The key is to remain “self-referential,” to allow ourselves to be moved by others while staying focused on our own path. “Self-referential people see themselves as the marker,” says Lopez. “They care about their own performance, not how they measure up compared to that guy over there. They don’t attach themselves to super successful people. They can get the boost, but they don’t see that person as a reference point or a competitor because the only competitor is the self.”
If our possibilities are greater, our achievements become dwarfed and shrink proportionately with our ego. A smaller ego leads to disillusionment – and now we’ve started down the road to self-loathing. What Psychologist Lopez is suggesting is that we should not base our achievements on what others are doing, but rather on what we have already achieved ourselves. Our point of reference is then the “self.”
Staying focused on self-growth keeps our emotional life healthy and motivated. There will always be someone having a shining moment – and in that moment, the self-referential talent will choose to celebrate with the achiever. Likewise in that moment, there are many others who may not be having outward success. What we should be asking ourselves each night is - did I grow further than I have in the past? Did I conquer a new experience? Did I give 100% to what I did today?
So . . . did you?