Machen MacDonald: Put your hat back on |

Machen MacDonald: Put your hat back on

I was once in a meeting with eight other performance coaches at a business building retreat. We were asked to imagine having a hat in front of us and putting all of our problems into the hat.

Without having any knowledge of what each other mentally placed into the hats, we were then asked, “Who’s hat would you rather have?”

This exercise was part of a process to dismantle our tendencies to compare ourselves to other people.

The reason for this is studies show that a great deal of time and energy are wasted when people compare themselves to others regardless of whether they imagine themselves in the pit or on the pedestal. Equilibrium accelerates peak performance.

Think about it for yourself. Given the different hats that you wear in life, whether it is in the home, in your career, community, or the extracurricular activities in which you participate, most people are guilty of comparing themselves to other people in some way, shape, or form.

Worse yet, the comparisons are never apples to apples. People have a propensity to compare their embarrassing out takes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

For example, as much as we love our kids and want the best for them, we may find ourselves comparing the results of our parenting to another parent’s when we learn of their child’s accomplishments in an area where our child may not possess the aptitude to excel as well.

By the way, per this article, it’s not about the kids, it’s about the adult who is guilty of comparing themselves. The kids are doing perfectly fine just as they are and will find their way. It’s part of being a kid … remember?

In business, competition often comes into play. In some aspects, it is healthy and in others, it can be quite toxic. If we view our competitors or colleagues through the lens of resentment or ridicule it doesn’t serve anyone. It merely keeps us stuck in feeling like we are not good enough.

Most of us find ourselves comparing an end result, i.e., the proverbial scorecard such as who’s kids are most well-adjusted and have a full ride to Harvard? Who pulled up in a Ferrari? Who has the vacation home at the ski resort? Who’s company is worth $10 million? Who’s book hit the NY Times bestseller list? etc.

What’s practically never taken into account when we compare are the starting points, the obstacles overcome, the setbacks endured, or the mental and emotional dragons that have been slain.

Additionally, what is so easily ignored are what others may currently be up against in their life because it happens behind closed doors.

This is why, when asked, “Which hat do you want to take back with you?” each of us will take back our own hat.

This week, I invite you to put your own hat back on and go out and play. You will win your game by simply doing your best from right where you are and staying out in bounds and away from the comparing zone.

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000

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