At one time or another, most of us have measured success and the quality of our physique and training abilities to that of other people. Comparing how good we look or how effectively we train with another person can either drive us to propel our efforts off the charts—or bring our progress to a grinding halt.

Is this a healthy approach to take when trying to improve? It could be. If you use someone else’s physical development as a driving force to help you train harder and eat better, it is an effective, empowering approach. That’s pretty obvious.

On the other hand, if seeing another person’s development and achievements in the gym discourages you, then you might really have some challenges. Frustration, becoming overwhelmed, and the desire to quit trying so hard could slowly overcome you.

You’ll never live up to your true potential with this crippled mentality. And, when comparing yourself to less-accomplished individuals makes you complacent, you will run into problems as well. You’ll fall short of what you are truly capable of achieving. You may start settling for less after reaching a certain level just because it’s better than what most of those around you are accomplishing.

You see, the choice is yours on how you perceive the people around you. What’s most important is the manner in which you formulate what others do and don’t do in your head.

It’s very interesting how one person can affect another. Just as you probably have, I’ve seen it happen both ways many times. A person who motivates some people can be the very same person who discourages others. This is something you should take the time to think about. Often, we are not conscious of the affect other people have on our efforts until a much later time.

A Fine Line

There’s a fine line between holding yourself to high enough standards to make the most out of your abilities and being so tough on yourself that you suffer a mental meltdown.

I’ve witnessed many people who have accomplished a great deal with their bodies. They look great. The only problem is they fail to realize what they have done. One of the biggest tragedies in life is when a person is doing well—but creates so much frustration and discontent along the way because he or she fails to appreciate the success they have earned.

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You’re not always fair to yourself when comparing yourself to others. Everyone is blessed and cursed with different genetic and lifestyle factors. Nothing in life is necessarily fair. In every area of your life, this works both to your benefit and against you—but never does it happen just one way. There’s nothing to complain about because you have it better than some others. There’s nothing to get too excited about because there will always be people who are more gifted than you. The sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be. Only then will you stop using such comparisons and instead just get to work on becoming the very best you can be.

On the other hand, if you feel using comparisons is helpful to you, be careful not to be too easy on yourself. Sure, you might be doing better than others, but you will not be fulfilled until you feel you are honestly living up to your true potential. Many people make the mistake of discounting the amount of effort more successful people have invested into their training practices and healthy lifestyle. That’s very easy to do—and it’s somewhat of a delusional path of least resistance. A person will have an extremely difficult time becoming the best they can be when taking this route.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with using the other people when creating ambitious goals. But you must honestly assess where you are now compared to where you’d like to be eventually. More importantly, you must take the time to reflect upon and appreciate where you have evolved from. The chances are great that you are doing a lot better than you realize.

You Define Your Success

The truth of the matter, however, is that your success is never defined by how you measure up against others. The battle to become the best you can be will be fought internally with yourself—rather than externally with a war waged on others.

You must strive to become the best compared to you. Success is determined by the gap you create from where you began to where you are today. It’s the person who creates the biggest gap between where they started and where they are now with their training efforts that are truly the most successful.

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How to Determine Your Success

by Paul Delia time to read: 4 min
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