Measure Yourself Against Yourself

Rick Kraft

SO much of life is what happens in the six inches between our ears. It is a very small part of our body. Our brain weighs only about three pounds, but it controls every other pound that we carry.

Two brothers are born a year apart and raised together. As adults, they settle in the same neighborhood. One loves life and enjoys the adventures that each day brings, the other is miserable and dreads getting out of bed each day.

When asked separately why they have their present views on life, the fulfilled brother responded, “That’s an easy question, look at my upbringing.” The brother who hates life said, “That’s an easy question, look at my upbringing.”

I like the quote, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Couple it with the slogan, “Be all that you can be,” and we have a couple of core concepts on how we should view the world. You are each the first of one edition with unlimited potential.

We often forget how unique we are. We play the comparison game. We look left and right and then compare. Instead, look in the mirror — that’s your competition.

No one has ever walked your journey. You are one of a kind, the only you that will ever be.

Your job is not to seek to keep up with those ahead of you, nor to look down at others you are ahead of. Your job is quite simply to be the best that you can be. Measure yourself against yourself. You have been delivered the hand you have. All you can do is play it the best you are able.

You have heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I like the spinoff, “When life gives you lemons, don’t suck them. They will only make you sour.” Either way, life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how you respond. Your life will be measured by the 90 percent that you can control, not the 10 percent beyond your control.

Most individuals with a terminal health condition did nothing to deserve this 10 percent. Some of you have just lost loved ones. This occurs independent of how good a person lives their life. A family breadwinner will lose his job today not because of anything he did, but because his employer has to close its doors.

Life happens … and life goes on. The sooner we can understand that life is not fair, the sooner we can choose a healthy response to the 10 percent beyond our control. Recognize the unfair nature of our existence and get over it. Get on with what you need to be accomplishing.

Where you are today is a combination of choices you have made and external events beyond your control. Where you are tomorrow will be a combination of choices you make today, future external events you can’t control and the 90 percent response to these events you can control.

Look within you at the gift set you’ve been given. Recognize the gifts you’ve not been given. Operate inside your gift set, but outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself, why am I here right now? What is it that I need to be doing? What is it that only I can do?

If you ask these questions, you will live a proactive life, not one that is reactive. There is something out there that only you can do.

Don’t waste your days looking left and right at the successes of others and focusing on what they’re blessed with. If you choose to live your life in a competitive mode, you will never win. There will always be someone who has something more than you.

Each day brings new challenges and new opportunities. It starts with a clean slate. Thank God for giving us a night at the end of each day and that we can begin again when the sun comes up.

What is in the rear-view mirror today is quite simply an unchangeable history. Don’t let what happened yesterday keep you from accomplishing today what you need to be accomplishing. Don’t let your past rob you of today. Today is a precious commodity that you have been given to spend as you wish.

If you don’t accomplish today what you need to be accomplishing, don’t blame others. Rise above what others say or do. Don’t live a life pointing at others. Don’t try to make yourself a victim.

My challenge to you today is to measure yourself against yourself. Focus on the gift set and strengths that you have been blessed with, not on what you don’t have.

Whether you are happy with what you have or unhappy with what you don’t have, you still have the same things.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. It happens once and then it’s gone. Each day arrives, is spent and then is gone forever. Live each day to the fullest.

May you only measure yourself against yourself. Recognize the gifts you’ve been given and the blessing you routinely receive, and use these for the benefit of others. May you be abundantly blessed in your days and years ahead and be the best that you can be.

Just a thought …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, published author and attorney. To submit comments, contributions or ideas, e-mail to


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