Comparing people – A lethal move.


Human beings in general have an urge to set benchmarks, or more precisely if I try to make it simpler, we like to create a denomination base. For example, my income levels – how much did I earn last year compared to this year, or how did I do on my exam this semester compared to last semester? These points were set initially by both societal and professional institutions to help mankind assess themselves, and help them understand if they were moving at the direction they had set for themselves.

But as human beings progressed and developed through time, they started modifying these norms to fit their ‘Needs of Recognition’ as stated by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, in his famous ‘Maslow Hierarchy of Needs’. Human beings eventually stated comparing themselves with others, setting others as their benchmark, and this initiated the precursor of an insatiable human needs.

It obviously gives you a sense of euphoria or ‘feel-good’ when you compare yourself with a person not doing very good at that very point of time when compared to you. You feel a sense of achievement and you feel happy. But does this help you in the long run? No. When you compare yourselves with others, you generally do two mistakes depending with whom are you comparing yourself.

Case 1: If you are setting your benchmark with a person not doing good, you are overestimating yourself. It’s more like, if I compare a friend of mine scoring 10 out of 50 points in an exam, and I scored 14. This will make me happy, as I scored more than him, but is 14 a good score? No. This will prevent you from working hard and you will never be able to score more than 30 points, as your goals are too small. So can we solve this problem? Yes, we can.

Just think about this situation, you scored 20 out of 50 in the same exam, but now you set yourself as the benchmark instead of someone else, and set your goal to secure 40 points next time. You worked hard and you finally scored 35. Won’t that be amazing? Here in this situation you worked on yourself to enhance your score and your life.

Case 2: If you are setting your benchmark with a person who is doing too well, and is far ahead of you. This is the most dangerous problem you can ever face in your life. Now you may argue that setting tough goals is important. I agree to that statement. But think about this, tough goals in what form? If you are setting goals such as, the other person has good knowledge in trading, or computer programming, then this will push you towards working harder to learn more. This is very good.

But if you compare his salary with yours, that is a problem. Before comparing your salary with his, think why does he secure that salary, maybe because of his knowledge (which you might not have), experience, personality, reliability, etc. If you think that just because he is of your age, or sometimes even younger than you, so you should get more salary, then that is wrong. By comparing yourself with this person, you are underestimating yourself, and him as well. This will never make you happy, this will make you miserable. To cover up your story, you will then resort to things like lying about yours or the other person’s salary. But deep down that will make you feel worse.


So work on yourself. Compare yourself with you. Create your own benchmarks. Consider other achievers as a source of inspiration, not as comparison base. Inspire and get inspired. Set goals, achieve them, and help liberate yourself.

Arnab Pandey

 Arnab Pandey is a 25 year old (India born) capital markets professional, an entrepreneur, a nationally awarded debater, an internationally acclaimed researcher, and a passionate blogger. He holds  an  MBA (Finance) degree from the Sykes College of Business at The University of Tampa, Florida. He procured his under-graduate (Bachelor of Technology) degree in the field of applied mechanics….. Read More


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