To compare is to despair.
I saw this quote in Bonnie Gillespie’s recent column about competition and was thinking about it this morning after I found myself feeling that I could do so oh so much more to further my voiceover career.
Some voiceover colleagues seem to be on every social media site and practically living their lives online. Some people write multiple blogs. Others are producing podcasts and videos at a dizzying pace.
I have been a competitive person all of my life, first in school with grades, and then in the work place for projects and recognition. When I look at the wide array of activities in which some voice talent engage, it’s easy to think I need to be just as productive and do the same things in order to stay competitive.
However, my corollary to Bonnie’s statement is: To compete is to deplete.
Years ago, when I worked as a computer network administrator, the organization considered one of my coworkers to be the ultimate authority on server configurations. No matter what this man did, how rudely he treated others, or how his system changes might negatively impact the users, the organization always praised and rewarded him.
I didn’t understand at the time that competing with him simply by trying to copy his actions was not the path to success.
For instance, he avidly devoured Microsoft Technet articles, discussion boards, and every computer magazine he could find. He read on the job and every night at home.
I felt compelled to read the same stuff in my evenings. I felt extremely competitive with him and wanted to stay at his level. He criticized the rest of us when we didn’t know about a technical topic.
I hated spending my spare time that way. What’s more, these competitive actions added to my feelings of being overly stressed and under appreciated in my organization. It was a competition that I could never win and one I really didn’t want to enter.
I realized later that he read that material because computer networks were his passion. While I was extremely adept at my job, it was never my passion. I have never regretted leaving information technology positions for my true love of voiceover and communications.
All of the recent attention on Steve Jobs has made me feel a bit like I am not realizing my true potential. It’s easy to think that I haven’t done anything to change the world.
However, that’s not true. I have changed the world just by being in it. No one sees things the way I do or does things exactly as I do.
I have changed the world with the hundreds of recordings I’ve created for clients and in public service. I know that people have watched videos and e-learning projects where I was the one telling them the information they needed to know. I know people have enjoyed listening to me narrate short stories and audiobooks. Sometimes, I’m even privileged to receive their kind words of praise about my work.
I have changed the world every time I helped someone physically, emotionally, and financially.
I have changed the world every time I thought and spoke positive, affirming words to and about myself and others. In fact, I’ve often thought of myself as an advocate for people who could not or would not speak for themselves.
My impact on the world may not be on the grand scale of Steve Jobs. My output in voiceover-related activities may not be as numerous or frequent as some of my peers.
But, you know what? That’s OKAY. I am living a joyous, fulfilled life.
If you ever feel inadequate and think you need to compete with others as a result, remember these wise words from Steve Jobs:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.