Comparison is the thief of joy: Ladies, let's celebrate one another

Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

Life is busy. Many of my family and friends haven't had a moment to think about ordering a copy of my latest published compilation. I thought why not share my favorite excerpts right here to encourage, inspire and empower women who work.

Go ahead. You know you want to. Go grab that cup of coffee or a glass of wine and let's celebrate one another as women!

 Betsy Ferguson: Wife, Mother, Designer, Author & Owner of Lynchburg's Finest Real Estate Brokerage

Betsy Ferguson: Wife, Mother, Designer, Author & Owner of Lynchburg's Finest Real Estate Brokerage

So I've heard that people see Real Estate as an easy business route to make lots of money. Oh boy is it anything but easy! Rewarding...yes! Challenging...yes! Fulfilling...yes! Real Estate agent's put forth hours of work with many nights and weekends away from their family, not knowing if it will pay off and sometimes it doesn't. Nearly eight years in this business and it still hasn't driven me to quit yet. Much of what I want to share with you is why. These are things I wish someone had shared with me before ever getting started. 

If you are a woman who works ---no matter what you are considering pursuing I hope you can glean the importance of celebrating other women!


Before pursuing a career in real estate or any business field, I challenge you to define what success means to you. Don’t just come up with an answer in your head. Write it down. If you don’t, you’ll end up never feeling satisfied or proud of yourself, because someone will always have a bigger victory than you. So if you define success as closing 12 houses a year, and you succeed at closing 12 houses a year, then you win! And when you find out your friend in the business closed 50 houses, you don’t have to compare yourself to them-- you can celebrate them because you both succeeded. Imagine driving a race car but constantly looking at the lanes to your right and your left.  If you do that it is going to slow you down. Perhaps even distract you from your goal. Keep your eye on the goal because the only person you are competing against is yourself.


So many times we get on Facebook, Instagram, or engage in a simple conversation; anywhere that someone can show you the best things of their life. Be careful, comparison can catch you off guard. I can be having a great day and then after scrolling through my newsfeed or having a conversation with someone, all of a sudden I feel like I have lost the wind in my sails. I start thinking about where I want to be instead of being content with where I am. I recently had a fellow agent in the business approach me and begin comparing our businesses, models and practices. It really affected my spirit for days after the conversation. Listen when I tell you that your journey is your own, specially tailored for you and no one can take that from you. When you find yourself comparing and looking at what other people have, you will find yourself subconsciously devaluing what you have. What you really have is something pretty special. It’s special because it is specifically for you at this place and point in time of your life. I wish I could go back and tell my peer the importance of celebrating our diversity instead of comparing. Comparison requires someone be labeled the winner and someone the loser. Instead of her viewing me as her competitor why don’t we choose to support one another and stand together as allies? I know how hard my fellow peers work to stay and be in this business and for that I respect them. {Yes even the areas top local agent, Nadine Blakely. Especially Nadine Blakely, because I know what it has taken her to get to the top}


Another thing to be on the lookout for around the corner of comparison is jealousy. Jealousy is often comparisons partner in crime. Comparison tends to foster competition over community. It also leads to feelings of inadequacy. The bystanders that only see the finale are usually those who are jealous. Jealousy has a way of focusing on only one thing. Jealousy doesn’t give a complete picture. It ignores the hours of work that generated the sales and rankings-- the sacrifice of the time that could have been spent with family. Jealousy tends to overlook the years of practice, turmoil, confusion, and failure that preceded the success. Success always comes at a cost and jealousy tends to discount that cost.


When we compare ourselves to one another we lose inspiration. The question of inspiration is really a larger question of what moves us. What moves me. I recently read a great article in Real Simple magazine. The author Megan Abbott said, “As the years go by, as we grow older, we bury parts of ourselves, don’t we? The parts that make us vulnerable. That show us perhaps as we really are”. It’s those vulnerable parts that our clients need to see, that they want to see. They are in fact what make us human. Allowing our clients to feel connected to us. That is why comparison is the true thief of joy. We cut ourselves short, most importantly we cut our clients, family and friends short as well.


What I have found is woman to woman we are the hardest on one another. I shared with you earlier about a fellow agent in the business who felt the need to compare our businesses and give me unsolicited advice. If you hadn’t guessed it already she is a woman. I have spoken with many women recently both in real estate and other businesses and the one experience commonly shared as they have endeavored to accomplish their goals is dealing with women who instead of supporting their success, compete with or sabotage them. Women often feel justified competing with other women for many reasons. I will share with you some of the most prevalent ones that some friends recently shared with me. This message is so powerful. Not only for ourselves it affects our children and grandchildren. If we can get this message and impart the wisdom into our own lives, we will be able to have amazing relationships with ourselves. It is only when you have an amazing relationship with yourself, bringing out the best in you, are you then able to bring out the best in your children. I want my daughter Layla Grayce to be proud of her Momma and learn this at a young age. 


Insecurity. The definition of insecurity is self-doubt, not confident or sure. I remember in the sixth grade I had a tightly knit group of female friends in elementary school. We were the starting five on the girls’ basketball team. We felt important and exclusive. Four of the five of us had an early growth spurt. One day on the bus to a game I was chatting with the four girls I considered friends. After all, we were the dominant girl force in our little universe. As we were chatting I watched one of the girls examine my legs propped up on the seat in front of us. “Look”, she said, innocently enough, “Betsy hasn’t ever shaved her legs yet.” And she was right. I remember coming home after that basketball game and insisting to my mother that I had to begin shaving my legs. I thought I needed to hold to their expectation of shaving my legs at the age of twelve. That somehow their opinion of me was fact and the need to fit in was more important than if I was really ready. I felt stupid. Less than. I had to begin shaving now so they wouldn’t keep pointing it out and making fun of me. Women compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another --at least that seems to be the dominating approach of how we relate to one another.

By shaving my legs soon after that encounter I was proving a point. I had a need to prove that I could fit in, by comparing with the other girls who had already begun shaving their legs. It seemed at the time like such a small thing but I truly wasn’t ready yet. What I was truly longing for was a need to be accepted. I thought by shaving my legs they would accept me. Turns out they didn’t truly have my best interest. Turns out they really wouldn’t be lifelong friends. Turns out the starting five was made up in an effort for each one of us to feel important and exclusive. A fabricated friendship. We were only using one another to feel good about ourselves.


How many women do you know today who are using one another to feel important, exclusive and accepted? It is in fact an artificial friendship. There is nothing authentic, sincere or genuine about it. The reality is that women don’t have to devalue other women to find value within themselves. When we are fully able to see that we each are unique beings, then we can understand why we don’t have to prove how worthy we are by putting other women down. If you want to better yourself, it does not take tearing another woman down to do so. You are your own competition, so start there. We are worthy just as we are, and its time we all started to believe that.


A part of the “competition” between women is due to the fact that we’ve bought into the idea that there is some sort of “limited stock” that we’re all trying to attain. Whether that’s the ideal man, some perfect beauty standard, perfect mother award, or a checklist of accomplishments. Somewhere along the way we have been convinced that for one of us to have it, someone else needs to not have it. It ends up making women a threat to other women. We see it on a larger scale in celebrity culture all the time -- “Who wore it better?” etc. On a smaller scale we see it as we scroll through our social media newsfeeds. It is like we are always trying to one up each other. When we post the picture of the most Pintresty party, a perfect family photo or how skinny we look in an outfit. We are putting these perfect moments out for the world to see and which lead to manifest shaming other women, disempowering them as they walk away feeling outdone. Whether we are doing this consciously or subconsciously it is an issue of misplaced self-worth.


It’s women’s emotional intelligence and compassion that make us fantastic leaders. Women who compete successfully have a self-assured awareness, a positive self-image, self-direction, are assertive when they need to be, and are aware of their own strengths and the strengths of their colleagues. Here are some final thoughts to getting this “thief” under control. It boils down to embracing other women as allies, whether that’s at a mother’s group, with our friends, in the real estate community or within business in general. Women should be kinder and stop competing against each other. We forget to appreciate how far we’ve already come in the direction of our dreams and goals because we are always chasing and comparing. Comparison after all is the thief of joy.

I challenge you to spend some time today or within the coming days thinking about how fabulous you are and reminding yourself of a couple of your unique and special qualities. Don’t pick the easy stuff. Dig deep and remind yourself of the good stuff that only you can bring to the table.

 

Thanks for taking the time to stay and see what my latest published book is all about.

- Betsy