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People better than me: how to transform comparison into motivation

By Remy Meraz June 1, 2023


Key Takeaways

  • The 'better than me' mindset stems from our inherent need for social comparison but can negatively impact personal and professional life.
  • Our comparisons are often biased and based on superficial attributes, not considering the full context.
  • Positive comparison, viewing others' success as benchmarks and sources of inspiration, can turn comparison into motivation.
  • Professional development plays a key role in overcoming this mindset, fostering confidence and self-improvement.
  • Strategies like acknowledging others' achievements as benchmarks, cultivating a growth mindset, and setting personal goals can transform comparison into motivation.
People better than me: how to transform comparison into motivation

Have you ever found yourself thinking, "everyone is better than me," when comparing yourself to others? It's a common thought that can silently seep into our minds, sometimes without us even noticing. In a world that's increasingly competitive and connected, it's easy to fall into the comparison trap and let our self-confidence wane. But what if we told you that these comparisons, instead of being a source of self-doubt, can become a powerful tool for motivation and professional development?

This blog post aims to change your perspective about the phrases that often echo in our heads: 'people better than me,' 'someone better than me,' or 'who is better than me.' By delving into the psychology behind these thoughts and offering practical strategies to transform them, we hope to help you channel comparison into motivation. This shift in mindset, paired with continuous professional development, can become a stepping stone towards your self-improvement journey. Stick with us as we redefine the concept of comparison and provide you with a fresh outlook on self-growth.

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The comparison trap

Defining the 'people better than me' perception

We've all been there. Walking into a room full of people, and we can't help but notice someone who seems smarter, more accomplished, or more confident. The phrase 'people better than me' is not just a passing thought, but a perception deeply rooted in our self-conscious. It's a silent comparison that creates an imaginary hierarchy where we place ourselves lower, undermining our abilities and achievements.

The impact of the 'everyone is better than me' mindset on personal and professional life

When thoughts like 'everyone is better than me' become the soundtrack of our lives, they can have a profound impact. On a personal level, it can lead to a crisis of self-confidence, trigger anxiety, and foster a sense of inadequacy. Professionally, it can limit our career growth. The fear of not measuring up can hold us back from taking up new challenges, asking for promotions, or simply voicing our opinions. This mindset turns potential opportunities into threats, creating a wall between us and our professional development.

Discussing the psychology behind these feelings

So, why do we compare ourselves to others? The roots of these feelings lie in our inherent need for social comparison. According to social psychologists, we evaluate our worth by comparing ourselves with others. This tendency, known as 'social comparison theory,' is part of human nature. But, it's important to remember that our mental distortions often paint a skewed picture. We might overestimate others' abilities while underestimating ours, leading to the thought that 'someone is better than me.' Understanding this psychology can be the first step towards breaking the cycle of negative self-comparison.

Breaking down comparisons

Breaking down comparisons

Analyzing 'someone better than me': how we decide who is 'better'

When we say 'someone is better than me,' how do we determine who's 'better'? More often than not, we base this judgement on visible and often superficial attributes - their job position, salary, physical appearance, or social media presence. We seldom consider the struggles, hard work, failures, and resilience that hide behind these successes. It's crucial to remember that everyone has a unique journey, and comparing our behind-the-scenes with someone else's highlight reel can create an unfair and inaccurate perspective.

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The factors we use to compare ourselves with others

The factors we use for comparison can be as diverse as our personalities. We might compare academic qualifications in an educational setting, job titles in a professional environment, or even lifestyle and appearance in social situations. However, these external factors only offer a snapshot of someone's life, not their entire story. When comparing ourselves to others, it's important to consider the entire context, not just isolated factors that can paint an incomplete picture.

The potential bias in our self-assessments

One of the biggest pitfalls in the 'who is better than me' mindset is our inherent bias in self-assessment. Psychologists call it the 'negative bias,' where we tend to focus more on our flaws and failures than our strengths and achievements. We might overlook our progress and hone in on what we perceive to be lacking. Recognizing this bias is essential to breaking free from the comparison trap and fostering a healthier, more balanced view of ourselves. This, in turn, can help drive our professional development, focusing on our growth rather than how we stack up against others.

Turning comparison into motivation

Turning comparison into motivation

The concept of positive comparison

While we've discussed the potential pitfalls of comparison, it's important to note that not all comparison is harmful. In fact, when channeled correctly, it can be a powerful source of motivation. This is where the concept of 'positive comparison' comes into play. It involves observing and appreciating others' strengths and achievements, not to undermine our own, but to inspire us. It means celebrating others' success, and letting it remind us that if they can achieve it, so can we.

Shifting from 'people better than me' to 'people I can learn from'

One of the key steps in turning comparison into motivation is a change in perspective. Instead of thinking 'people better than me,' we can think 'people I can learn from.' This shifts the focus from a negative self-evaluation to an opportunity for learning and growth. By viewing others as sources of inspiration and learning, we can use comparison as a tool to identify areas we'd like to improve in, thus fostering our professional development.

Case studies of individuals who successfully used comparison as a motivation

Let's consider some real-life examples. Take the case of Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time. In her early years, she was often compared to her sister Venus, who was already an established player. Instead of letting the comparisons bring her down, Serena used them as motivation to train harder and ultimately carve her own path to success.

Then there's Elon Musk, who has been known to draw inspiration from great innovators like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Instead of getting daunted by their achievements, Musk viewed their success as a benchmark, pushing him to innovate and disrupt multiple industries.

These individuals show us that when we shift from 'someone better than me' to 'someone I can emulate,' comparison can become a powerful driver for personal and professional growth.

Implementing professional development

Understanding the role of professional development in overcoming the 'better than me' mindset

Professional development plays a significant role in overcoming the 'better than me' mindset. As we acquire new skills, expand our knowledge, and achieve personal milestones, our confidence increases. We begin to recognize our worth, reducing the tendency to belittle our capabilities in comparison to others. By continuously investing in ourselves professionally, we shift the focus from external comparisons to internal growth, transforming the narrative from 'everyone is better than me' to 'I am becoming better each day.'

Key areas of focus for professional development

When it comes to professional development, some key areas to focus on include technical skills related to your field, soft skills such as communication and leadership, and broader life skills like time management and emotional intelligence. Cultivating these skills not only boosts your professional prowess but also builds resilience against negative comparison. When we see ourselves evolving and improving, the question 'who is better than me' loses its weight.

How continuous learning contributes to confidence and self-improvement

Continuous learning is the cornerstone of professional development and a critical antidote to the 'better than me' mindset. By dedicating ourselves to lifelong learning, we recognize that improvement is an ongoing process, not a final destination. This perspective can help mitigate the pressure of comparisons. Every new skill learned or knowledge gained becomes a step towards self-improvement, instilling confidence and a sense of accomplishment. It shifts the dialogue from 'someone better than me' to 'the better version of me I am becoming.'

Strategies to transform comparison into motivation

Recognizing and acknowledging the achievements of others as benchmarks, not as threats

One of the first steps to transforming comparison into motivation is to change how we view the success of others. Instead of seeing them as threats or reminders of our perceived shortcomings, we can view them as benchmarks for what we too can achieve. This doesn't mean we need to follow the same path as them, but it provides us a tangible reminder that success is achievable. This shift in perspective can be a powerful motivator to push us towards our own professional development.

Cultivating a growth mindset: From 'who is better than me' to 'how can I improve'

Cultivating a growth mindset is crucial to turning comparison into motivation. This means believing that our abilities and intelligence can be developed over time. It shifts the question from 'who is better than me' to 'how can I improve.' Instead of feeling inadequate when comparing ourselves to others, we can identify areas we want to improve in and set about developing those skills. This mindset encourages continual learning and improvement, which are key to professional development.

Setting realistic, personal goals for improvement

Finally, it's essential to set realistic, personal goals for improvement. These goals should be specific to you, not influenced by what others are achieving. This allows you to focus on your own growth rather than getting caught up in comparisons. When we work towards our own goals, we are motivated by our personal desire for improvement, not by the fear of being 'less than' someone else. Over time, as we meet these goals, we begin to see that the only person we should be comparing ourselves to is the person we were yesterday.


In conclusion, it's essential to remember that comparison in itself isn't harmful. The damage comes when we use it to belittle ourselves, rather than inspire our growth. By shifting our perspective, we can use the 'people better than me' notion as a source of motivation rather than a cause for self-doubt.

This transformation requires a conscious effort, from understanding the psychology behind our feelings of inferiority to fostering a growth mindset. It involves recognizing our potential for improvement and investing time and energy into our professional development. By doing so, we can change the narrative from 'everyone is better than me' to 'I can be just as good, if not better'. Read more about how to be the best version of yourself with these 11 tips for living your best life.

In this journey of self-improvement and growth, remember that the only person you need to be better than is who you were yesterday. And with each day that you strive to become better, you are one step closer to becoming the best version of yourself. So the next time you catch yourself slipping into the comparison trap, remind yourself: Instead of wondering 'who is better than me,' ask yourself, 'how can I be better?'

For those interested in becoming an executive coach and further developing their coaching skills, check out Zella Life's comprehensive guide on How to Become an Executive Coach, which provides valuable insights and practical steps to start your journey in this rewarding profession.

To explore more about the impacts of coaching in professional development, check out our post on Life and Career Coaching FAQs. You can also read more about Remy's accomplishments and her impact in the startup world in our blog post about Zella Life being selected for Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund.

Read more about: Professional Development, Executive Coaching, Life Coaching

About Remy Meraz

Remy Meraz, co-founder, and CEO of Zella Life, is a visionary leader who leveraged corporate glass ceiling challenges as a woman of color to drive systemic change.

While leading and cultivating high-performance teams from VC-backed startups to Fortune 500, she consistently faced obstacles such as inadequate mentorship, lack of psychological safety, and non-personalized training. Taking matters into her own hands, she turned to executive coaching and NLP training. This life-changing growth experience led to breaking leadership barriers and a passion for cognitive psychology.

Motivated by her experiences, she co-founded Zella Life, an innovative AI-driven coaching platform bridging the talent development gap by enhancing soft skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace.

Her vision with Zella Life is to transform professional development into an inclusive and impactful journey, focused on the distinct needs of both individuals and organizations. She aims to promote advancement and culture change by ensuring every professional's growth is acknowledged and supported.

Today, Remy is recognized as an influential innovator, trainer, mentor, and business leader. Under her leadership, Zella Life has delivered significant measurable outcomes for numerous well-known brands. This track record of positive outcomes garnered attention and funding from Google for Startups and Pledge LA, establishing Zella Life as a pivotal force in the learning and development arena tackling and resolving fundamental talent development issues for organizations of all sizes.