Last week, the Austin Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, hosted a Corvette convention, and as a guest at that hotel, I got a front row seat to some eye catching beauties from the past. A 1986 Corvette pace car pulled up right in front of me, followed by a 1963 Sting Ray coupe. Moments later, a 1967 Sting Ray convertible rumbled by as a Z06 Hardtop Coupe stopped inches from where I stood.
The hotel’s valet, seeing a parking stub in my hand, rushed to my side.
“Can I bring your car around, sir?” he asked.
“Um….” I hesitated.
“I’ll be right back with your vehicle, sir,” the man said as he snatched the ticket from my hand.
Please Don’t Pull My Car Around Right Now!
While I stood waiting, an early 70s model Vette pulled up, dropped off a passenger, and sped off again leaving some smoke and rubber on the pavement as it accelerated onto the road.
“Here you go, sir,” the valet spoke, snapping me back into the moment.
He held open the door of my rental car, a Fiat 500.
When I rented the car at the airport the day before, I asked the man at Enterprise how many clowns he thought would fit inside the tiny car he had just pulled up for me. Sizing me quickly and then glancing at the car, he shook his head and replied, “Just one.”
And now at the hotel as I rushed to get inside the car and pull away without being seen, I imagined that I could feel eyes following me–Corvette owner eyes–and I could almost hear the sounds of laughter as if I were appearing in some sad, ironic sitcom featuring a large man doing stunts in a Big Wheel.
I had what experts will likely call in the near future “Little Fiat Syndrome“, that feeling of inadequacy one gets when driving a Fiat 500.
Later, when I pulled up my car in front of the hotel, my worst concerns were verified: people were, indeed, staring at me and my little toy car. But then something interesting happened. People seemed to like my car!
“I’ll bet that gets great gas mileage!” one guy said.
“You could probably do laps inside the lobby with that baby,” another man said.
“Is that car as fun to drive as it looks?” another admirer asked.
“Looks light and peppy,” a Corvette owner said. “I’ll bet that could beat most cars on the street,” he continued with what sounded like actual admiration.
I Don’t Want to Brag…
Nodding and smiling, I replied to each admirer of my car as if they were talking about a baby just hatched from my loins.
“Yes, great MPG. And it’s really quite nimble. Maybe later I’ll drive it up the staircase over there,” I said pointing to the stairs in the lobby.
I had been feeling embarrassed about my rental car, and yet these classic car collectors were in awe of my little wind-up car!
Not Better nor Worse–Just Different
We often fail to recognize our strengths, either because we make false comparisons between ourselves and others, or we try to copy the talents that others possess.
In truth, when we practice our own strengths, it’s likely that others become envious of us.
Avoid upward–and downward–comparisons.
You’ll always find someone better and worse than you in any particular area of life. Avoid comparisons. A Corvette is NOT a Fiat 500; a Fiat 500 is NOT a Corvette. Don’t compare the two. If you must compare, do a side-by-side of your past and present self. Look at how far you’ve come. When establishing new goals, don’t look at anyone else. Use your most recent success as a new baseline for what you hope to accomplish.
Maximize your unique talents.
If you measure the raw horsepower of the two cars, the Vette comes out ahead, no comparison. But if you were to compare the turning radius of the two, the Fiat could literally drive circles around the Corvette. Don’t envy or try to copy the strengths of other people. Focus on your own. Be authentically, uniquely you; be a crisp original, not a faded copy of someone else.
If you want the pole position, apply your strengths. Then ask yourself:
How can my strengths fuel me today to accomplish new feats and set new levels of personal excellence?