In my last post I mentioned that I can easily kill my own passion (zest, zeal, energy, love) for what I've been entrusted with (my work, my family, my writing, my home, my influence) by comparing it to someone else's.
Ever feel great about what you're doing -- until you see someone doing it better?
Ever get jazzed about a new idea you have for a new direction -- only to find someone has already been doing that for years?
Ever peer from the outside into someone else's life/job/ministry and assume it must be great?
When that happens, I can become uninspired. I can grow apathetic or even resentful. That positions me to appreciate and accomplish little. All because I'm looking elsewhere.
Here's the deal. And you may have heard this before but it bears repeating. Because it's imperative that we understand how green grass lies.
The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence where "they" live or work; because it's theirs or it's some how a better breed of grass. It's greener where it's being watered, weeded and fertilized. They are not necessarily an intrinsically better gardener than you. Green grass is the result of effort and focus over time.
If you and I were to have their "lawn," and we showed up to it the same way we are showing up to our lawn now, we'd soon see the same results we've been getting in our yard.
Are you tracking with this metaphor? (Note: we are not talking about blades of grass and dandelions.)
Green grass is a matter of how you tend it. Tend it with passion. And avoid things that drain that passion.
Avoiding the Drain
If comparing your stuff to others' can at times inspire you but at times drain you, you've got to be hyper-aware of when the latter is happening.
As you read on the Internet, or watch HGTV, study your business competition, or watch or think about someone else's life, train yourself to periodically stop and ask, "Is this inspiring me in a helpful way, or is this draining my energy, making me envious?"
Be careful ... sometimes we will drain our optimism for our own work (or appreciation for our own life) when studying someone else's while telling ourselves, "This is helping me. I'm learning from them."
Even if the content you are learning from them is good, if it doesn't also inspire you to apply it (or to continue doing your own thing with zeal), it's not really helping you at this time. It's likely stalling you.
When I ask myself the is-this-inspiring-me-or-draining-me question and I realize I'm feeling interested but overwhelmed or drained, I know I need to take my eyes off of that for now. At least until I can renew my mind about it and approach it or see it differently.
I know from experience, comparison is the fastest way to kill your passion.
So stop that, now.
Focus on your art, your craft, your audience, your spouse, your Bible. You get the picture.
Because change is possible, but focus is required. And passion fuels our focus.