comparison compromises creativity
I've asked myself this question approximately 862 times since starting my digital agency. I'll find myself riding this wave of confidence and insecurity, and I know I can't be alone. A friend of mine refers to this as wearing masks, or "imposter syndrome"; when we feel like we have to do a certain [something] in order to look like we belong, or have credibility, or [fill in the blank]. And, to be honest, that feeling of being an "imposter" comes from something that none of us can quit paying attention to: social media.
Fortunately, I am surrounded by a large group of successful, influential people in- and outside of the digital marketing industry; however, those connections can sometimes bring up a lot of insecurities for me. Like, somehow, if someone finds out that I don't do everything the way that _______ does, I'm somehow lesser than or completely unqualified. Like many others, that fun little lie lives in the back of my head and likes to make surprise visits. I like to think of that little lie as Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation – super annoying, shows up unannounced in an RV, etc. Which, by default, makes me Clark Griswold. I can be a total doormat when it comes to those comparisons. I can't say no. I let those little lies hang out for a second; and just by acknowledging those unannounced visits, I give away so much of my own energy to something that doesn't benefit my growth.
President Theodore Roosevelt's "Comparison is the thief of joy" quote has been on my list of favorites for a few years. Some may disagree with this idea, arguing that comparison is a form of motivation, direction, guidance, etc. To those, I ask you to consider this,
Have you ever been scrolling through LinkedIn and noticed that everyone’s LinkedIn posts are formatted the same way? They start with some sort of vague attention-grabber, and then continue with fragmented thoughts that are a close variation of what everyone else is writing. Even more annoying than seeing these posts consistently drown out your network, is looking down and seeing they have 500+ likes. As with all trends, there is an ebb and flow so it’s pretty clear this too shall pass, but the point is that we need to shield ourselves from thinking this is some sort of standard in how we should practice our own messaging in order to be accepted or validated by our online communities. What’s most important is that your message is consistent and genuinely reflects the true nature of your brand.
While it's easy for me to obsess over who's doing what, or even worse, what I’m not doing, I'm challenging myself to focus on the ideas that reside in my gut that initially pushed me to take the leap and create something of my own. Attracting the audience that’s best for your brand lives in your messaging and delivery. The more content you put out that is authentic, the more your audience will grow. The more that audience grows, the more engagement you’ll receive - regardless of the platform. It all boils down to your authenticity online - and part of honing that in is by creating a sort of tunnel vision on your own creativity, and blocking out opinions while still being able to filter advice (yes, they are different) from outsiders.
Everyone will find a way to share their opinions on how you should have make that post look, or how that blog should have been written, or how that logo should have looked – and that’s ok. By practicing your own authentic creation and delivery every day, you’ll quickly master your message.