James Patrick, ACS, ALB

If you are like me, then you too are suffering a great deal from what psychologists call contrast bias. What does this mean? Contrast bias means that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others who we perceive as being more successful than us.

What we do is we look at other’s positives, all their pros, but never for a moment consider all their negatives or cons. Thus we are essentially only putting value into the things we see in other’s lives that are outstanding, but never taking into account all the things that they may be suffering from.

Thus by contrast, our work, our life, what we have seems weak in comparison.

It is often argued that a great way to advance yourself is to constantly surround yourself with those who you perceive to be better than you. For example, if you wanted to be a better public speaker, the logic goes that you should surround yourself with amazing public speakers. Should you want to make more money then you should be connecting with those who make endless amounts of it. The prevailing theory is that as if by osmosis you yourself will adjust what you do and how you act to raise your own bar.

However, if you are only surrounding yourself with people who are beyond or above where you presently are, there is a real significant risk of burning yourself out or feeling like you will never be able to catch up and reach their level.

Now, imagine you flip that around. What if you were only surrounding yourself with people who were beneath you? Should that be the case you then run the risk of never pushing yourself and allowing yourself the opportunity to advance beyond where you are.

As you might have guessed it, balance is the key to this situation. You should absolutely put yourself in the company of those who you look up to and you should absolutely spend the time to mentor those who want to be where you are as it boosts your own confidence and feeling of self-worth.

But it is also important that you spend time with those on the same level as yourself so you are able to community with them directly on the highs and lows of the challenges you all are facing simultaneously.

By doing this, you will feel inspired by those you can help out, you can connect with those who are doing almost exactly what you are doing and you can be inspired by those beyond where you are at to work to a higher level of success.