Getting Ahead

Photo of kids running football
Photo copyright ©2017 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

When you hear the term, “Getting ahead”, what is your first thought? Do you immediately compare your current situation to that of other people?

Don’t worry if you do. That would make you completely normal. And wrong.

Life is not a race. Neither is a career.

In a race, everything is relative to the others in the race. There are clear winners and non-winners (OK, losers).

I have nothing against competitive sports and the concept of winners and losers in that context. But, I have a big issue with viewing everything in life and work through the same lens. It’s not necessary.

If you have good things happen in your life, I am happy for you. Your success does not define my failure. Some people struggle with this concept.

What if we viewed the term, “Getting ahead” as purely a personal reflection? What happens to our general outlook if we define “ahead” in terms of our own history instead of some skewed view of a random person down the street or in the cubicle across the hall?

While I was never a golf fanatic, there was a time in my life when I played on a fairly regular basis. I played with many different people of wildly different skill levels. Regardless of skill level, I find golfers fall into two categories: those who compare their score against those they are playing with – winning is everything – and those who compare their score against their own scores on previous rounds. I have always found those in the latter category much more fun to be around.

The “comparing to myself” players who were better golfers than me (usually the case) took the time to coach me and help me with my abilities. They wanted me to be a better player. They realized it is more fun to be around golfers of higher skill levels, so if they could help me improve, future outings would be more fun for all.

Meanwhile, the “comparing my score to this foursome” players, regardless of skill level, were far more likely to cheat to improve their score and complain if I, in my efforts to simply learn the mechanics of the game and keep things moving, nudged my ball into a slightly better position. (What? Cheat? Me? Nah…)

When we treat “Getting ahead” as purely a personal assessment, we are more apt to reach out and help others around us. We realize life is not a zero sum game. Others do not need to lose in order for us to win. It’s a heck of a lot more fun to hang around others who are good at their game. If we can help others around us improve, it’s more fun for us to play together and everyone wins.

Go on, get ahead.