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Kind of a Big Deal

Kind of a Big Deal

In Austin yesterday I met Jodi, who was attending the panel I co-presented with Jonathan Fields. Jodi talked about recently taking her first trip abroad, to Europe.

Some active travelers might say a trip like that is “no big deal”—but I understood exactly why she was excited. When you’ve never left home, your first destination is most definitely a big deal.

Someone else wrote in to say they had been to “only” 20 countries. What? 20 countries is great. Plenty of people never go anywhere.

Someone else said their business was just getting started and made “only” $500 the first month. What? $500 is a lot of money. If you can make $500, you can probably make $5,000—but even if you never do, making any amount of money on your own for the first time is a highly notable event.

When we falsely compare ourselves to others, we needlessly belittle our accomplishments. We also give weight to the wrong idea that venturing out of our comfort zone is “no big deal” or that small successes are “overrated.”

But actually, doing what other people expect you to is what’s overrated. The external rewards for pursuing a dream may or may not arrive, but regardless, you should feel proud of doing so. The first steps are more important than the later ones, because they’ll provide inspiration and security for everything that comes later. Just keep walking!

Never despise small beginnings, and don’t belittle your own accomplishments. Remember them and use them as inspiration as you go on to the next thing. When you venture outside your comfort zone, wherever the starting point may be, it’s kind of a big deal.

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Image: Fury

62 Comments

  • rob white says:

    Indeed agreed… it is all relative isn’t it? Just as an affluent kid going to an Ivy League school is no big deal, I am more impressed with a poor kid in ghetto conditions that pursues community college. Never be deluded into thinking you are stuck where you are. Our real intelligence knows better. Our comfort zones are painful psychological barriers when it prevents us from experiencing our unlimited nature. The infinite power of creation is ours if we make a determined effort to stretch a little further… and a little further…

  • Marius says:

    Long time no comment on your posts, but now I felt compelled to write. This is an interesting thought, I battled with that for YEARS.

    You alway tend to compare yourself to people way more successful than you, instead of accomplishing your own success. It took me ages to only focus on my successes, and to keep scaling. One of my favorite quotes for this case comes from the-one-and-only Karl Lagerfeld:

    “Personality begins when comparison ends”

  • Tony Alicea says:

    Comparison is a dream killer for sure. When I started my blog, I wanted to compare to other people who had successful blogs. That was ridiculous because they put in a lot of work to become successful. When I would tell people about my stats from the first few months, they were blown away. I had no idea I was doing well for just starting out.

    I definitely don’t belittle my accomplishments these days. I can’t afford to quench my passion and destroy my own dreams.

  • Love this, Chris. Thanks for posting! :)

  • Dave says:

    Inspiring message Chris. When I find myself comparing my blog’s performance to that of others, the advice of my Mom rings in my head “just focus on you, and don’t worry about anyone else.”

    Mom’s always seem to know best!

  • Jeremy Long says:

    Humans naturally can’t help but look around and compare themselves to others. It’s vital that we keep it all in perspective.

    Great post Chris!

  • Regina Marie says:

    Thank you for the reminder. With a fledgling business, and a major move and life change on the horizon, remembering to celebrate the little things is vital!

  • Agreed. I think of comfort as a cushion of fat, what my dad calls a “spare tire.” Every time I seek discomfort in the form of risking authenticity, in tiny and grand ways, I burn off a little of that fat. I don’t try to become lean and daring overnight because I’m likely to deplete all my emotional and spiritual resources without any kind of structure or rhythm to replenish them. But if I go for a metaphorical walk or run, do some push-ups, ride my bike when I could have driven my truck, then I’m changing my lifestyle slowly but surely. As that cushion of fear shrinks, I realize that it was fear. Fear is a depressant. It robs me of energy. The less I have, the more initiative I take. I begin to become myself—at my best.

  • Chris – thanks for the reminder and the beautiful post. Whenever I compare myself to others (too often), I almost always feel inadequate. However, when I look to others for inspiration, it nearly always reminds me of the incredible potential lurking within all of us. I guess the distinction between using other’s benchmarks as our own & looking to others for inspiration is very important.

  • Brent Sears says:

    It’s about the journey, the lessons, and the growth. We have so many choices in our world that it is easy to do something for the first time. The best thing to do it get comfortable in your own skin and live your own story – even if no one seems to be watching.

  • Dane says:

    Bang on mate!

    the little things in the end are just as important as the big ones. and most often far more rewarding. so good call, we should all remember to enjoy and celebrate our ‘”little” accomplishments!

    plus it’s just a bunch more reasons to celebrate, and as rick james would say, it should always be a “celebration b*tches!”

  • Madelyn says:

    Chris, I’m brand new to your writings, and this mornings message confirms my signing up. We are all unique individuals who have something to give to the world. It’s almost as if each of us is a piece of a gigantic puzzle. Unless we are ourselves, the puzzle won’t be complete as only my unique ‘shape’ will fill in the hole.

  • Mike Gusky says:

    Thanks! I needed that. I was just reviewing where my online project has progressed after being live for only two months. The very small numbers as far as facebook follows and reader subscriptions was a little depressing when I compared to other sites I follow but what the @$#% was I expecting in two months? Two months ago all those numbers were big fat ZERO’s. My concept contained the words “Compete with your current self to become your future self”. Guess I should take my own advice. Thanks Again!

  • Sage Russell says:

    Reminds me of a quote that lives on my mirror:

    “The thing about doing BIG things, is that invariably the first steps will be small. Which oddly, is the same reason many don’t take them.”

    Don’t be the many…

    ~Sage

  • Comparing simply doesn’t work, on so many levels. And I think small beginnings are the most exciting part!

  • Awesome–makes me think of my first time in Europe–I whooped it up, danced around the tarmac after getting out of the plane in Athens, yayyayayayay totally like a kid–who cares?–much to the amusement-bordering-on-dismay of my well-traveled then-boyfriend. I had already traveled around the states a bit and over the border to Mexico for a day, but this was the real deal, to me. And the first time for anything only happens once– might as well enjoy it!

    Good reminder about the business, too–now there I have more of a tendency to not feel so excited about the small steps. I’m well beyond the very first steps or first $500 but today I will jump up and down about being where I’m at–maybe close to half-way to where I want to be. Yay! Be happy about where I am instead of unhappy that I’m not yet where I want to be. Halfway there is awesome too :)

  • Lisa Meddin says:

    We all have to start “somewhere.” And it is usually with a thought, feeling, idea, or inspiration. If we actually then create action, wow, what a step! If the actions then multiply, awesome! When we see results from our actions, voila! we have accomplished something great.

  • Pete says:

    Great post Chris and comments above. We tend to get caught up comparing ourselves to others and it can bring you down if you let it. It’s true that we need to keep things in perspective. Both my wife and I now do what we want to do to make us happy. If it works, bonus! If not, we move on. Our accomplishments are ours, and if we are proud of them, that’s what counts. I agree with Dave’s advice above too, Mom’s seem to know best!

  • Thanks for the encouragement to always keep going, Chris. Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t compare myself or my work to others — it’s just so much more easier said than done on an emotional level.

  • Amber says:

    Thank you Chris. This relatively small post packed quite a punch for me. Sometimes I get swept up with comparing myself to other artists (I’m a dancer) when I know deep down that this is a dead end road. It is such a waste of my precious time!! Thank you for the awesome reminder. All I have to do is create my own art and I don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing.

  • heidi says:

    I have to be admit that I am the first person to dismiss my “small” accomplishments. I will often compare myself and my actions to others who are way ahead of me in some regards. I really appreciate this post today Chris. It was a nice reminder for me to give myself credit for taking certain risks in my life and for living outside the box.

  • Akshay Kapur says:

    Another way to look at it is treating everyone like they are a “big deal”. You never know who a person is when you meet them and following the Golden Rule, the more you treat a person like they’re a “big deal”, the more this sentiment will be returned.

  • Steve says:

    I’m anticipating my second international trip, to London. The first trip last fall was a tour around Ireland with Vagabond. After years of armchair-traveling with Rick Steves, Rudy Maxa, and the PBS gang, I finally tipped the scales somehow and made it out of my chair. I would say the size of the accomplishment is directly proportional to the size of the perceived obstacles. So, for me, going to a large city across the pond without a tour is a pretty big deal.

  • Annie says:

    Hi Chris, firstly I loved finding you on Jennifer Lee’s Right Brain Business Video Summit the other week – thank you for taking part :-)

    Reading your blog here, I realise a funny thing about perspectives & that we all travel to and from different places; here you are posting a picture of Big Ben in London – far away from your home base – and here I am sitting almost within view of it – just a short hop and a skip along the river and over the bridge. We can see Big Ben from here … it makes me realise how much about London I take for granted!

    Love that you wrote “Never despise small beginnings, and don’t belittle your own accomplishments.” Nice …. very nice – thank you!

  • Great post and good reminder. Sold my first ebook this week (albeit to my mom), launched a new ten week language program that has 12 people signed up now. Small steps and just peas compared to others, but their my peas! So I’ll take em and plant em and work for a harvest!

  • Well, once you keep looking up, you may never accomplish a goal because you are always worrying about the next person. Sometimes you may have to look down and see how many people are not in your position

  • good post, I get many questions myself, people getting discouraged when they find out where I have been and what I have been doing. I always tell them that anywhere they go instead o sitting still, it will be a step forward.

  • Great message. It is so hard to focus on your own dreams, abilities, and environment. Everyone wants to compare.

  • Amber J. says:

    I totally just wrote about why it’s a big mistake to compare yourself to others today for my blog, The Fab Life Project.

    Awesome! Great minds think alike?!?

  • Stacey says:

    If we didn’t build on our failures or successes, how would we get anywhere? This may seem corny, but I’ve been approaching my work lately as though it were a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel. I start something, come to a point where I can make a decision – using the knowledge I have on hand – and I go ahead. I make a mistake, I go back and see where I went wrong; I succeed and I continue on that path.

  • Judah says:

    I love the message in this post. I recently became aware of a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that has completely helped my perspective when I start comparing: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I want to write it in the sky!

  • Wyman says:

    Any step out of your comfort zone is a big deal, as you say. You are ahead of 95% of the world that are afraid to get out of their comfort zone at all.

    Great post as always.

  • Jodi Henderson says:

    Funny the timing of this post, Chris. When you asked me where I went, I almost said “Oh, only to Europe.” But you’re right. It *was* and *is* a big deal just to have done it at all. I got over a lot of fears to do it in the first place and now I can’t wait to keep doing it.

    Thanks for all the encouragement and inspiration!

  • It’s so easy to diminish our accomplishments and easy to compare ourselves to others. I find that I do this myself all the time for one of two reasons:

    1. I hate bragging and
    2. I am proud of something I did until I say it out loud. Then all of a sudden, I get self-conscious and wonder: “is that really a big deal?” and I suddenly downplay it.

    What a great reminder that it is totally unnecessary to do that. It’s ok to feel good about what we’ve done, right? ;)

  • Marie says:

    So timely! I do like to celebrate the “quiet milestones” of each time I step out of my comfort zone. Today I’m celebrating that my business page on Facebook earned its first 25 Likes and thus a username. It’s for an online shop of my indie clothing design for non-conformist women. Considering I don’t even know how to sew with a machine (everything is painstakingly created by hand), this is a big deal for me. Thanks for the validation.

  • Christen says:

    Love it! This is very encouraging. I’ve just sold my first two articles, and made a whopping $36! But I am cheering for my baby steps. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Cindy L says:

    I’m always inspired by your essays with each newsletter. Thanks for bringing up an issue I’ve been struggling with for some time. With access to so much material these days, it’s easy to get caught up in the “comparisons” game when it comes to writing and other creative pursuits. When I stop comparing my work to others, and focus on my own goals and achievements, I am so much more productive. There will always be writers out there who are more or less accomplished than I am. It pays to stop looking over my shoulders and get to work.

  • Thanks for posting this very timely article. “. . .don’t belittle your own accomplishments” is important to me as a new blogger. Sometimes it is very easy to look at everyone else and see what they did during the same frame.

    This made me realize to look only at my accomplishments.

  • Kim says:

    I am starting a blog tomorrow called Kill Your Comfort Zone – am hoping to obliterate my comfort zone with many baby steps. Thanks for writing such inspiring stuff!

  • Marie says:

    The further you move out from your comfort island, the bigger your comfort island becomes.

  • Lisa says:

    Great post. Thanks for the reminder that no matter what your comfort zone – stepping out of it is kind-of a big deal!
    Also – really enjoyed your interview with Jenn Lee on RBBiz Summit.
    Cheers, Lisa

  • Small victories can make for BIG excitement in the mind that is truly free from outside static.

    Thanks, Chris!

  • Swell Gal Mary says:

    This is so true. I find myself saying “only” now and then and stop to correct myself — most of the time. I still hear “only a housewife” or “only a secretary” a lot from women and wonder why we do that to ourselves. But that’s only my opinion — I mean that’s my opinion.

  • Michelle says:

    “Never despise small beginnings, and don’t belittle your own accomplishments.”
    Wow, I needed to hear this today. Thanks for the inspiring post.

  • Thank you, Chris.

    My biggest struggle is I make a point of reading the best bloggers out there. The ones who make a sustainable income (some making 6 or 7 figures a year) through blogging. I see all the things they do (like post more often than I do, or market themselves more aggressively). And I look around and see my little blog making no money with only a handful of visitors and a few budding ideas on how to make money barely taking shape and it can be disheartening.

    I have to remind myself constantly that I am still new at this, that I am doing a lot with the very limited time I have, and that this is a marathon and will take awhile to get done.

    I will be an entrepreneur. I will leave a legacy. God will be glorified.

    Thanks again, Chris. This has helped me a lot

  • Katarina says:

    This is why I love this blog! Excellente!

  • Steve MacCormack says:

    Nicely stated C.G…I’m 48 years old, had many successes and many failures thus far in my journey, and, I now have an 11 month old daughter. It took me a long time to give myself credit for anything I’ve accomplished and you are so right my friend! It’s really about holding yourself to a higher standard than anyone else could ever consider….”what you think of me is none of my business.”….I’ve also recently discovered AONC and I’m a new fan! possibly even part of your small army…you’ve inspired me to start a whole new career in world dominance….Thank you, and keep up the outstanding work bro!! It is greatly appreciated.

  • kyle says:

    I will put my blinders on and keep making steps. One step. Two step. Three.

  • Ye Lili says:

    “The first steps are more important than the later ones, because they’ll provide inspiration and security for everything that comes later.”
    I really like this sentence, thank you very much to give me inspiration :)

  • I feel like this too. I feel that since my first move outside of my nest is only a state away, that it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it’s a big effing deal for me! It’s also a big deal that I’m doing it with 320 dollars. I feel like I’m stepping waaay out of my confort zone and pursuing something risky. It’s definitely a christmas morning anxiety attack.

    Great post Chris.

  • Tracy says:

    This post struck home for me, Chris. I had recently realized that I do this all the time, and reading this today helped me realize why. Two friends had recently complimented me on how I handle our family’s food allergies, and I had brushed it off, thinking it wasn’t like they had [insert horrible disease here]. But that wasn’t their point. It shouldn’t be about what I do in comparison to anyone but myself. Thanks for that reminder.

  • daniel says:

    You have to celebrate every accomplishments. The same way that a professional million dollar basketball player is going to score points for every basket. There are no simple baskets and no simple accomplishments. While I’m on it, simple things make my wife smile ear to ear and inside I celebrate every one of her smiles

  • GutsyWriter says:

    My problem is not comparing myself to others, but expecting myself to do better. I ‘m very demanding of myself and because I always share my publishing steps with others who don’t understand the process of getting an agent/ getting published and all the self-promoting you have to do as an author today, I get into a, “Come on Sonia. What’s taking so long,” attitude.

  • gaurav says:

    Chris.. Last year i travelled to the US (texas, ny etc). first time outside of India and i was like jodi and loved it… but the truth is this world is filled with enough people who will keep putting you back, despite of all good intensions , they will push you back. Its always a uphill task..so u start to become more quieter and lesser prone to taking up challenges. What we need is a great bunch of people who will have faith in us… I have faith in Jodi and everyone who said a big yes to this post.

  • jox64 says:

    I am reminded of the quote “The success of others should serve as our isnpiration, not our standards”.

  • KC says:

    I shifted my career…left a good paying job…went abroad (my first) on my own expenses for education…took a less paying job after that…took some steps which I havent seen many people doing (I am comparing here)…but at the same time sometimes I feel was it the right decision?…but now I think it was…all that I did was “big deal” for myself…thanks Chris and thanks everyone!!!

  • Debora says:

    You’ll never know how much this post meant to me. I’ve copied and pasted your words into a file named ‘encouragement’ so that I can refer to them from time to time. It’s so easy to compare oneself to others and it’s a recipe for discouragement-which is quite frankly how I’ve been feeling of late. Thanks for putting me back on track.

  • Natalie says:

    Wow Chris, Thanks!
    This was absolutely perfect for me = a +1 confidence boost

  • Kim says:

    I have been struggling with this myself lately. Sometimes it feels easier to recognize the successes of those around us than our own successes.

  • It’s nice to be reminded that any step forward towards creating your dream should be celebrated as a success. Whether it’s a $10 sale or $1000 sale doesn’t matter as long as one step motivates another.

  • Drew C David says:

    “When we falsely compare ourselves to others, we needlessly belittle our accomplishments.” I like this reminder, because I have seen how falsely comparing myself with others has threatened my own adventures.
    I really appreciate the adverb “Falsely” used to describe the comparison that goes on. Comparing isn’t the problem. Comparing can lead to motivation, or even encouragement. As I look at your travels/accomplishments (comparing them to my own) it encourages me to take new risks and explore new places.

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