Comparing Yourself to Other Athletes?

Comparing Yourself to Other Athletes?

grand prix horse show, Wellington Equestrian Festival, Wellington, Floirda, comparing riders,
Watching Grand Prix at Wellington Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

Comparing yourself to other riders … is that you?  

Ok, admit it. It’s hard not to look at other riders that are better than you and envy them a little bit. After all, you are putting in the hard work, all the long hours and a lot of money, and still, you feel like you are always behind and you fear that you will never get there.

Yes, of course, you wish you had a better horse, trained at a top show barn, or had more money for clinics or shows, but are those “facts” slowly bringing you down? Are you finding it harder and harder to motivate yourself against those “facts,” which you believe you have no way of changing?

Watch out! You can go from being “down” about it to being stuck in it. Since we don’t ride or perform well in any area of our lives while feeling frustrated, discouraged, angry or depressed, the less you improve, the more you beat yourself up.

During those days when you feel like giving up, your horse can feel that negative energy too. Now you have THAT challenge to deal with! The next thing you know, you’re on a downward spiral as you keep trying to pull up the nose of the plane that is on a fast descent.

Then there is what I call the “reverse comparison rider.” This is the rider who wins the blue and champion ribbons, yet feels guilty about it and downplays it. Why? Because they are too worried about how their win will negatively affect their barn mates. So, unconsciously, they “shrink” their magnificence to fit in.

They don’t want the other people at the barn to feel bad about not winning, and/or they are afraid they will be ostracized or left out of the group. If you are an extremely skilled rider who is “on a winning streak,” as a “reverse comparison rider,” you can even do something as extreme as forgetting the course! (Unconsciously, of course.)

So, it would seem that with all the negative self-talk from comparing yourself to someone better, and all the self-shrinking talk to downplay your win, comparing yourself to other riders is not a good thing, right?

Most trainers immediately suggest that you NOT look at your competition. “Stay focused on yourself,” is the standard advice. And yes, I totally agree. But …

Comparing yourself is not all bad … for some riders. Why only some? Because everyone is moved forward into action by different things. We call this motivating factor leverage. I call it Your Personal Leverage Factor.

What moves you forward? Everyone is different, and leverage is what I help people to discover. Some riders will swear that their personal leverage is winning blue ribbons, yet after working with them, I figure out that their REAL leverage (that’s the one that actually works!) is pleasing their parents. These are the kids that are motivated by love and connection. They are also the ones that may be more motivated by pleasing their trainers.

Other riders are more driven by the need to feel special, unique, or important. For them, it’s all about the significance of being “a winner.” They are either motivated to more forward towards the pleasure of being a winner, or they may be more motivated by moving away from being perceived as a “loser.”

(These riders are typically perfectionists who are frantically trying to gallop ahead of the fear of never being good enough!)

And then there is the rider who absolutely excels when they are trying to beat someone they are jealous of! These riders use the leverage of jealousy or their dislike of someone to propel them into winning. These are the “fighters” who are self-motivated only when they are in the “I’ll show you” rebellious or stubborn mode!

They have learned the fine art of how to channel the powerful force behind their inner warrior. And it works for them!

Knowing which of these work best for you, and changing your values or rules to allow you to use a particular leverage (like anger or a need for love and connection) could be that 1-millimeter change that makes all the difference between getting a ribbon or walking away empty handed.

Then there is the everyday, casual “comparison shopper.” This is the rider that is motivated by always keeping their eye on the person that IS winning. These riders can actually use that need to want to be the best as leverage to motivate themselves to work harder and harder. That is IF they use the right self-talk and NOT the wrong self-talk when they are doing the comparing.

What is the wrong self-talk? The stuff I mentioned above in the first paragraph; focusing on all the things you don’t have, that the other riders do have, that you feel is the single cause of their achievements and also happens to be something that you believe you can’t ever change or rapidly acquire in the near future, like purchasing a show horse for $3 million dollars!

They have the self-talk that paralyzes them. It sounds something like, “I’ll never be that talented.” Or, “I’ll never be that brave.” Or, “I’ll never be that cool, calm, and collected.” Or the worst one, “I’ll never look that beautiful or be that rich. She has it all! I can’t compete with that!”

Even trainers are subject to this negative self-talk. They think to themselves, “Oh, well, that other trainer is lucky because he/she lives in a town filled with wealthy clients.” Or they may say, “Oh, that trainer is lucky, they had that farm handed down to them.” Or, “That other trainer has been doing this twice as long as I have; I’m just starting out, so how can I possibly win the best clients over to my farm with that competition right around the corner?”

So, this is comparing with negative self-talk. But what if you were to use the top riders’ (or trainers’) achievements as leverage for moving yourself forward? What if comparing yourself to your competition could be a good thing? How would THAT self-talk look?

You could say:

“Wow, what an inspiration! I want to be just like them!”
“What can I learn from this rider/trainer to make me the best that I can be?”

Tony Robbins, whose coach teaching school I graduated from, is famous for saying, “Success leaves clues.” And it’s true! So, it is actually a blessing and a learning opportunity to study the best in your field. Watch the videos of the top riders over and over again and let your brain “see” what it is supposed to make your body do when you are on a horse.

You could even take it a step further and humble yourself to ask one of those top trainers to mentor you! Why would they do that? Because they are not afraid of competition at this point and/or because of their need to contribute to others or their passion for teaching. They are complimented and honored to be asked. Yes, those people are out there! Believe it and keep asking until you get a yes!

Studying the people you want to beat (a tweaked version of comparing) can be a good thing. What are the daily success rituals of the top riders and trainers? What time do they get up in the morning? What do they eat? How often do they work out? What are their sales goals for selling horses and how are they marketing their horses? How are the top riders getting sponsors? Is their social media more active than yours?

Don’t focus on beating yourself up for what you’re not doing; get excited about what you will now add to your mindset and your daily rituals!


horse shows, equestrian, show jumping,
Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida

Do you want to learn how to use the top riders and trainers as leverage for motivation to be your personal best? See their results as something positive, an opportunity to learn from, rather than looking at their results as a negative reflection on you!

How about thinking like this?

  • It’s not that you’re undisciplined, it’s that you have an opportunity to become more disciplined.
  • It’s not that you are out of shape, it’s that you are about to be in amazing shape!
  • It’s not that you are negative all the time, it’s that you are going to finally pick up the reins and give yourself the edge on your competition by learning how to build the toughest mindset out there.

Listen, can you own a $3 million dollar horse and not ride it well? I could! What about if you were up all night worrying about a show; could you possibly NOT ride that horse at your very best? If you had a very upsetting argument with your spouse or if your child was seriously ill, would that affect your riding? If you were coming down with the flu, would your timing and energy be off?

Aha! So maybe you CAN win the class that day because the strongest mindset attached to a well-trained rider (with consistent daily success rituals) always has a better chance of being in the ribbons!

So, the point being, your mindset can win over talent, experience, and fabulous horses. Adding a dash of a hard work ethic can do the same and can also make huge strides!

Not buying the “you don’t need an expensive show horse” theory? OK. Your choice. (Your thoughts are ALWAYS a choice.) Or you can research and read about the riders who were in your financial riding boots that DID make it there by being so good that they were given great horses to ride.

“It’s not that you don’t have the resources, it’s that you’re not being resourceful enough!”   Tony Robbins

You know it can be done. You know that you can be better. You are just not there, YET! What 1-millimeter change can you make, CONSISTENTLY, that would get you there?

Comparing yourself to others. It’s not about how you are worse than others and obsessing about your weaknesses and all the mistakes you are making. It’s about finding your gifts and treasures that you can further develop. It’s knowing what leverages you do have, to effectively and consistently propel yourself forward into positive action, not negative action!

Any progress equals happiness. You’ll feel better when you feel more in control of making positive changes in your life and your riding. Step one is deciding to get a strong mindset! We’re talking mental skills of steel! Strategies and techniques that will outperform anyone else’s.

Step two is … move forward with commitment and certainty! No more excuses. When you are stuck in the quicksand of excuses, you’re NOT moving forward. You are sabotaging yourself. If you’ve already put in all the money, hard work and years of time, then why not make all that work for you? How much more work, money, and time do you want to waste NOT getting the results you want?

Decide to get the returns on your investment with the awards you deserve. Be strategic. Study your competition within the framework of what you can learn from them. Start finally doing the things that you are NOT doing or HAVEN’T tried! Like having a stronger mindset and a better attitude.

What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back?


Nancy Dye is a breakthrough mindset coach and resilience trainer helping people to transform the quality of their lifestyles.

Nancy is certified as a strategic interventionist from the official coach training school of Tony Robbins and has over 30 years as a change agent; shifting people into peak performance.

Nancy specializes in solving the puzzle of why people are not performing at their best and customizing the right strategy for “jumping over” adversity. She handles all areas of an athlete’s lifestyle, including relationships, career, addictions, weight loss, health and transitioning through life stages.

With a past career in corporate sales and as a luxury lifestyle Realtor, Nancy has been coached by some of the top sales trainers in the corporate world, as well as by some of the most elite coaches in the world of sports. Nancy redesigns the inner lives of athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, and elite military and veterans.

Nancy is married to Jack Miles, a former Olympian gymnast who is inducted into four athletic Hall of Fames. For one-on-one coaching or information on her workshops or riding clinics, Nancy can be reached at