The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is The 'Comparison Fallacy'?

The Comparison Fallacy assumes that it's possible to compare your skills, priorities, goals, and results with other people in an accurate and useful manner.

Other people are not you, and you are not other people. You have unique skills, goals, and priorities. In the end, comparing yourself to other people is silly, and there’s little to be gained by it.

The only metric of success that matters is this: are you spending your time doing work you like, with people you enjoy, in a way that keeps you financially Sufficient?

Josh Kaufman Explains The 'Comparison Fallacy'

In business and in life, it’s easy to compare your situation to others. Status Seeking ensures that we spend energy tracking our relative status to our peers, and most of the time, our conclusions aren’t favorable.

We tend to fixate on what other people are accomplishing instead of what we need to do next to achieve our Goals. When other people we know accomplish big things, it’s easy to feel sad for ourselves instead of happy for their achievements... as if their success diminishes us in some way. It doesn’t.

The Comparison Fallacy is a simple idea: other people are not you, and you are not other people. You have unique skills, goals, and priorities. In the end, comparing yourself to other people is silly, and there’s little to be gained by it.

Here’s an example: one of my friends is very successful in business, and makes about ten times what I make each year. He has received a lot of public recognition for his work. His products sell well, and he enjoys his success. There’s a lot to envy.

Here’s the other side of the coin: my friend works twelve hours a day, sometimes more. He doesn’t have a family. He has a large staff that requires constant attention, and his business’ Overhead is over ten times mine. He’s overwhelmed with email, phone calls, and meetings. He’s under tremendous stress almost all the time.

It’s easy to see the benefits of my friend’s life, and just as easy to overlook the Tradeoffs. That’s the trick: he is successful in certain areas because he works very hard, and he’s willing to pay the price of his success.

If I could swap lives with my friend, I wouldn’t: I’d be miserable. His life doesn’t mesh with my priorities or how I prefer to live and work. The benefits he enjoys appeal to me, but I’m not willing to pay the price he’s paid for achieving them. Remembering the Comparison Fallacy allows me to wish him well and stay focused on achieving the Goals that are most important to me. I can be genuinely happy for his success, and not waste my energy on pointless envy.

The same trick works in any situation that has the potential of inflaming feelings of envy or inferiority. Whenever you’re tempted to compare yourself to an acquaintance, colleague, classmate, or celebrity, it always helps to keep in mind that your goals, preferences, and priorities are completely different. You’ve lived different lives, and you’ve each paid different prices for what you’ve accomplished. Any comparison you make instantly renders itself invalid, so you can relax.

The only metric of success that matters is this: are you spending your time doing work you like, with people you enjoy, in a way that keeps you financially Sufficient? If so, don’t worry about what other people are doing. If not, focus on making changes that are within your Locus of Control, so you can start moving in the direction you desire.

Remember the Comparison Fallacy, and keep moving closer to what you want.

Questions About The 'Comparison Fallacy'


"Never compare your inside with someone else’s outside."

Hugh MacLeod, author of Ignore Everybody


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/comparison-fallacy/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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