Why Powerful Professional Women Don't Compare Themselves

Comparison is almost impossible to avoid if you're a living, breathing human being.
Why Powerful Professional Women Don't Compare Themselves
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This story originally appeared on Ellevate

Comparison is almost impossible to avoid if you’re a living, breathing human being. We're bombarded with images of aspirational women from social media, marketing and television, which can make even the most secure, happy woman feel inadequate.

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During performance reviews, the organizations we work at often implicitly pit employee against employee to determine who gets raises, promotions and firings. Being compared to your peers is the standard.

It’s not surprising, then, that we fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to those around us. In some ways, it’s a survival tactic. We live in a world where people want constant feedback, so comparing yourself to those around you can affirm where you stand in the pecking order.

I’m all for being ambitious and focused on self-improvement, but at some point it becomes unhealthy and unproductive to strive to be like other people. Badass women know this. And, ironically, they are often the women that other women are striving to be like.

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Badass women are tuned in to what it takes to rise to the top and be successful and admired. They pick up on social cues in their organizations and understand the skills and competencies their employer values and rewards. They know who the influencers and decision-makers are and have personal relationships with them. They identify and build relationships with important mentors and sponsors.

Other women -- the ones who feel slighted, under-appreciated, overworked, stuck and even ignored -- are doing something different. Some of them wallow in their situations and complain about them. Others are working in roles that are misaligned with their talents and don’t know it. Still others have never taken the time to step out of their day-to-day routine and consider the bigger picture.

And all of them at some point have thought: Why her and not me? Come on, we've all thought it before.

But while some women throw a pity party or feel resentful or inadequate because their peers are getting more attention and respect, badass professional women don’t even notice.

That’s because they are focused on their own game. They have their own plan and an agenda to get there. They have put effort into building important relationships and social capital, and they don’t have time to compare themselves to other people. They're too busy leading the way.

So, the next time you start comparing yourself to someone at work, ask yourself:

  • Am I really doing everything I can to get noticed, respected and promoted?
  • Are my talents aligned to the work I’m doing and to the path I want to pursue?
  • Have I built the right relationships?

Related: The Secrets of Leadership Presence for Every Woman Leader

If you answered "no" to any one of these questions, then you still have work to do. No amount of comparison is ever going to close that gap.

(By Elena Lipson. Lipson is the Principal and Founder of Mosaic Growth Partners, a consulting and coaching firm based in Washington, D.C.)

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