When you’re discouraged because everyone else seems to be succeeding where you’re not, remember this

Three weeks ago I was delivering a pitching webinar that 6,900 people had registered for.

I fought back my nerves and skipped the typical intro, background, bio and stuff. Right at the top, I dove into sharing five successful pitch examples. My anxiety ebbed as I hit points I’d labored long hours to prepare.

And then out of the corner of my eye I saw the questions coming in over the chat box, poking holes in why the examples weren’t relevant to individual questioners. Not something that had ever happened to me before. Here’s an example:

“These somewhat obscure stories get great coverage because they're creative, but can you discount the fact that you have GREAT existing relationships already?”

I suppose it’s natural to look for excuses for why we’re not succeeding when others are. But I didn’t want listeners to short-change themselves out of potential growth.

So I set aside my notes and encouraged them to, yes, be realistic about their circumstances, but look for reasons they CAN succeed, rather than for reasons they’ll fail before they even start.

And then I said something that became the most-tweeted quote from the webinar. And that’s funny because I not only didn’t have it in my notes, I’d never said it before or even thought it before that moment:

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end.”

You and I see somebody else’s glistening placement in a sought-after media outlet. We don’t see the hours of planning, prep, and execution. And we certainly don’t see the frustration when things went wrong, when pitches got ignored, or when clients went AWOL. So when we consider our current progress (or lack of it) compared to others’ triumph, the gap can seem insurmountable.

Instead we should visualize our successful conclusions and seek out others’ successes we can aspire to emulate. Not only is this attitude more effective, life is much more fun lived this way.

So thanks to those initial questioners who knocked me off my talking points and helped us create some new thinking that day. And thanks to the other 300 or so who asked constructive questions, which I took a stab at answering here.

If you’re interested, the helpful Cision marketing team that hosted me has posted a replay of the webinar and a recap.

This article was originally published on March 19, 2015

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