A few weeks ago, I attended an event where I met some pretty cool people doing some really neat things.
I chatted with several individuals and came away pretty inspired. One discussion though, stuck with me the most (For privacy purposes, I’m changing the person’s name and omitted some of her professional details).
It was a discussion I had with a woman who had accomplished so much.
Samantha was a key member in a charity organization that helps at-risk people and youth, struggling with addiction and homelessness. She spoke about the difficulties of her work, but how she also loved seeing the improvements and differences that were made in the lives others. I felt a strong sense of admiration for what she was doing and the impact she was making.
However, at the event we were surrounded by people who had achieved high levels of professional success. Coming away from one of the session, she brought up the fact that she felt she was a failure. I was taken aback a bit by her comment; I thought to myself, with the incredible work she’s done, how could she feel this way?
She had done so much to help others and was in an organization directly caring for some of the most vulnerable people within a population, yet she felt like a failure. But then I understood… As humans we can have the tendency to compare, regardless of our accomplishments or successes. The way our societies define success also has something to do with how we measure our worth and contribution.
I truly believe that the difference Samantha is making by doing the work she does is equal to or even worth MORE than some of what CEOs or employees of big companies are doing. Creating companies and brands that make a lot of money can be admirable too…it depends though on what kind of impact those organizations are making and how they utilize the power they have to create a positive impact. If they’re hurting others and infringing on their rights or destroying the environment to make millions, then that’s not so cool. But the comparison trap is pretty detrimental and makes no sense, especially when roles and professions are so different.