Greetings friends and neighbors. I write this entry on cold, icy Saturday morning. We couldn’t get outside for our typical Saturday run due to the weather. Instead, Keri and I went to the gym and hit the cardio machines. After that we went to the feed store to pick up feed for the 4-H calves, picked up the kids from my mom’s, and went over to move some fence on the farm where we are strip grazing. We got all of that done just in time to get into the house and the ice/snow mix started to fall.
I write to you today to let you in a little bit about something that causes me great stress and anxiety. It’s something thats come to be called Social Comparison Theory. Social comparison theory states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. These evaluations can promote judgmental, biased, and overly competitive or superior attitudes. Most people have the social skills and impulse control to keep their standards for social comparison to themselves, and not to act on any envy or resentment spurred by comparison-making. But one’s true feelings may manifest in other ways.
I struggle with this in a lot of aspects of my life, but for now I’ll focus on my cattle and my farm. There is this one farm I pass by on my way home from work. It’s immaculate: Pristine fields, beautiful tin barn, pipe fence going all the way around. All those things are great, but the one thing that always draws my attention (and envy) is the cattle working facility that is complete with the Cadillac of head chutes, the Arrow Q Catch. Keri will tell you that if if a big pile of money fell in my lap, the first thing I would spend it on is one of these Arrows. They are so cool!
I’ve already admitted that I find myself envious of this person. Although admiration is ok, it’s when we obsess over these admirations and turn them into obsessions when we get into trouble. Cattlemen in general seem to always be getting into proverbial pissing matches with one another. We worry about how our cattle measure up to our neighbors or our friends. A common topic of discussion among cattlemen is talking about how much their calves sold for. But why should we really care about that?
In Episode 90 of the Working Cows Podcast, host Clay Conry and guest Dallas Mount speak about hitting the bullseye on the wrong target. We focus on the productivity side of cattle and less on the sustainability side. We are missing the little things that go into making a profitable and successful ranch by focusing on the end product. In ranching, the ends don’t always justify the means. (Really go check out this episode. It has been one of my favorite episodes of my favorite podcast).
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”Theodore Roosevelt
I come back to my original thought about the farm I pass by that I find myself in envy over. Yes, this place is beautiful. But how long did it take the owner to get it this way? Is he happy that someone on their way home from work can see his place? I know I would prefer my place over this due to the seclusion. So I tell you all of this to help you see that comparing ourselves to others is an exercise in futility. Teddy Roosevelt’s famous quote proclaims that “comparison is the thief of joy.” When we focus on how good we perceive others to have it, then we lose all opportunity for joy in our own lives. When we focus on the joys in others lives instead of ours, we lose the growth mindset we should be trying to achieve.
So I ask all of you to not judge a book by the cover. Most people and situations are much more complex than what may be seen by the outside world. Take the time to enjoy what you have with your own life.
Thanks for checking out this weeks blog. If you are enjoying what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe. Also, on this week of the podcast, we are featuring Dave Pratt, CEO Emeritus of Ranch Management Consultants. We talk about what it means to enjoy our lives as ranchers. This was a really cool episode for me to record because of the profound impact Dave has had on my family life. Be sure to check it out https://globalagnetwork.com/ag-state-of-mind-with-jason-medows/podcast