From the moment that we come into this world we have external pressures – be this, avoid that. Many people condition themselves to stay safe, and in the process they often lose the essence of what makes them human. They also lose that special spark of authentic creation that is inside of them.
There are two different paths that we can pursue in life, the path of comparison and the path of creation.
So many people choose the path of comparison. I know for many years that I did. I’m glad that I stopped. The path of comparison views the world as a hierarchy – a “hill to climb” a “ladder of success” a “race”, and everyone is at a different place, and we are all competing against each other.
We want to achieve success because with each success we get to step higher on the hill. We get to distinguish ourselves from the people below. We use material acquisitions and accomplishments to distinguish ourselves. These “symbols” give us a data point that works to reinforce, and boost, a sense of self-worth that is externally created.
Here are some characteristics that mark a person on the path of comparison:
- When deciding on whether or not to pursue a course of action they are highly sensitive to the potential rewards. They are externally driven – they want “something” real to come from their actions, internal satisfaction isn’t enough. If there wasn’t a reward for their work they wouldn’t do it. If they were the last person left on the earth they would not perform the work that they currently spend the majority of their time doing. Their work doesn’t fulfill them. The reward provides fulfillment, but only in the short term – in the long term there is a continuing sense of dissatisfaction.
- They are part of the “resume building” mindset. They never stop to actually consider what they really want out of life, but rather they think in terms of “upward mobility” even if they have no interest in the hill that they are climbing. They feel that they can’t have a black mark on their resume. They can’t take a step down. They’ve worked so hard to get where they are – even if they aren’t fulfilled. Even if they wish life were different. They’ve become handcuffed to the “progression of their resume” and at some point in their life they look down, from the hill they’ve climbed, and realize the climb itself hasn’t fulfilled them. They are addicted to another reward.
- The path of comparison doesn’t create courageous leaders, and innovators, it creates critics, and followers.
Other people gravitate to the path of creation. They stop caring about they hill, the ladder, the hierarchy. They stop seeing the world as a race, and generally they become much happier. Often young people out of University immediately jump into the path of comparison (that was me), and this is in large measure because of the social pressures that are placed on them, and their fears of the scary world that presents itself. Fear lends itself to scarcity mindset, and this feeds competitive hunger – the turbo fuel of the path of comparison.
The older people get, the more they seem to gravitate to the path of creation. Also, it is never fully black and while. It is more like a spectrum, at any given point we are somewhere on the spectrum between full “competitive comparison” on the one side, and “detached creation” on the other.
Here are some characteristics that mark a person who is on the path of creation:
- They do things because their heart is calling them to, and they derive intrinsic satisfaction from their work. They don’t need another reward to do what they do, and if they were the last person on the earth they would still do their work. Their work becomes part of who they are – their ethos – their character – their purpose.
- The resume doesn’t define them. They don’t care about it. Life isn’t a series of small, unrelated, “upwardly mobile” steps. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all. They are willing to take risks even if it creates a black mark on their resume. They see their resume as a black mark on their life. They want to get to the point where the resume is totally irrelevant.
- They are consumed with the act of creation, and it seems to be this never ending fuel for them, and constant source of motivation that replenishes itself. It amazes them actually – how when they are immersed in the act of creation, they never seem to have to “talk themselves into working”. They seem to be pulled by a force larger then themselves. They stay up late, they wake up early, they don’t feel depressed.
I’ve decided where I want to be on the spectrum.
I want to blow up my resume forever.
I’m grateful that for the last 5 years I haven’t had to even look at this silly “path of comparison” document.
I’m not afraid to state this bluntly. Even if I fail, even if every business that I do dies, and one day I have to dust the resume off and use it just to feed myself and my family (as full of black marks as it may be), it will only be for as long as it takes to get back on the path of creation, and start a new venture.
The path of creation is the path that I choose to stay on for the rest of my life.