Are You Intimidated by Greatness?

by Adam on May 4, 2011

It’s human nature to compare yourself to others. But does this help or hinder your efforts to prosper in the future?

Since returning from Austin, Texas in March, Magical Penny has been quieter than in previous months. I could attribute the inactivity to a particularly demanding period at my day job, or the extra time and effort I’ve been putting in as a founder member of a new Leeds based choir preparing for our first concert.

But that would only be half right.

When I was in Austin in March  I met amazing people every day. People who are living their dreams with no safety harness; those doing incredible things with nothing but  a laptop and a vision for what they want to create.  Inspiring entrepreneurs and crazy-fun human-shaped bursts of energy.



People like:

  • Nate and J$ of Love Drop
  • Jenny Blake of  Life after College
  • Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology
  • Erica Douglass of
  • Adam Baker from Man Vs Debt
  • Sean Ogle of Location 180
  • Neville Medhora of Nevblog
  • Karol Gajda of Ridiculously Extraordinary
  • Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete
  • Scott Young

…and many many more noteworthy people who I’ve been following online over the years and finally had a chance to meet in person.

Spending time with these people I got spine tingling shivers just hearing about their achievements and future plans. My smile was almost a constant feature of my face for over a week.

I was inspired and felt ready to make an even bigger impact on my online endeavours, including Magical Penny, upon my return to the UK.  Surprisingly though, back home I found myself staring at a blank text editor. The main reason for quietness here at Magical Penny? I had become intimidated. How could my little corner of the internet compare to all the others? Do I really have something of value to share or was I just going to be writing endless re-hashes of‘spend less than you earn’ .

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way after learning of the achievements of others. And, as a writer of a personal finance blog I thought it was apt because when it comes to money, overwhelm and intimidation in reaching financial milestones is a common problem.

Not convinced?

Have you ever started comparing your financial situation to others and thought you could never get to that level? Did learning about the success of others inspire you to take action, or make you admit defeat?

What if someone on your salary told you they had managed to save £5000 in the last 2 years. Would you be fired-up knowing it was possible or disheartened that it was not realistic for you to do the same?

If you’ve ever struggled with getting traction or making progress with your finances, the following three ideas could help:

1) Know the Importance of Attitude

As I’ve written before, but it doesn’t hurt repeating, growing your pennies (or doing anything positive with your life really) is mostly about attitude. It’s important to be vigilant to avoid burn out and sometimes allow yourself to act crazy with money once in a while. Whilst the idea of only comparing yourself to yourself  rather than to others is not a new idea, it’s something that can’t be said enough.

2) Play the Numbers Game

The very nature of money, that it can be quantified, means it’s easier to find yourself comparing yourself to others.Using others as a benchmark can be inspiring but it is not healthy to compare yourself to others too much. To prevent becoming demoralised  I’ve found tracking my ‘net worth’ on a monthly basis really powerful. You should try it too as it will help you to know if you are moving in the right direction financially.  Also, rather than comparing yourself to others you can use your previous monthly movements as a benchmark for future improvements.

3) Do Something Rather than Nothing

Working out the best allocation of funds between present needs and savings for the future is hard. Actually getting to the end of the month with enough money is hard enough for some! But rather than waiting until your next salary increase or until you hit a certain age, you really can’t do any better than deciding to start now. Start taking responsibility for your life, regardless of how old you are and your situation. Anything positive you do today, however small, will put your future-self in a better position: Who do you want your future self to be?


I want to finish this article with a reminder that it’s easier to write about this stuff than to live it. But by writing this article now I like to think I’m taking my own advice on overcoming intimidation:

1) The right attitude: I truly believe this blog will continue to have  a life changing impact of those who read it and are inspired to save and invest for compounding returns.

2) The Numbers game: Tracking my progress monthly really does help me stay focussed on goals and adds personal context to the month on month progress.

3) Whilst not my strongest piece of writing, this article is testament to showing up and doing something.

What are you going to do today  to put yourself in a better position in the future?

You may also enjoy:

Will You Be Rich?

If you are daunted by the idea of investing thousands of pounds into things that fluctuate in value I challenge you to start small and see how you feel.

Don’t Act your Age: How to Keep Saving and Keep your Friends

Remind yourself that you’re not depriving yourself, just delaying your wants a little. By reconsidering your spending now, your pennies will go much further in the future as you give them a chance to grow into more meaningful sums.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon Cordoba

“No man’s glory overshadows your own” -Gary Barkalow

“The great thing about having a blog is it’s one hell of an accountability partner” -me just now

Adam out of all the people I met that weekend in Austin you were one of the most remarkable. When you are feeling anything that is derailing you or (on the other end of the spectrum) making you feel “in the zone” ask ‘Why?’. What is it that is causing these feelings of intimidation?” Explore them, go deep, write in a journal if that helps you.

“In every man there exists a vein of gold waiting to be discovered.” -by I forgot. Always be discovering; deepening (going Goonies style on your life)

Keep going Adam! Keep going!


Brandon, I love both of those quotes, especially your own one.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. You’re pretty remarkable yourself. I definitely think there’s a benefit for going deep, but not too much – I’d rather just start ‘getting on with it’ because things have a funny way of working themselves out if you let your internal worries get out of the way.

Onwards and upwards, right?


Adam, I’ve struggled with poverty my whole life. There have been ups and there have been major downs. I am close to debt free now, and slowly building savings instead of just surviving barely. There are long silences on my own blog where I feel there is nothing I can add, or when times are particularly stressful. There will be rough patches.

I just want you to know, I come visit your blog for inspiration. It is so refreshing to see a young person making so many wise choices and educating others as well. Please keep going. I’ve learned your readers will be patient if you are silent for a while. I’m still often jealous of those daily bloggers, but we just have to do what we can when we can. Obviously, there are many demands in a busy life. Please hang in there, you are inspiration and education for many!


Thanks IATWP, I enjoy reading your life too and appreciate having you here as a reader. Thanks for the kind words and advice too -it’s a pleasure to read and made me smile and feel even more motivated to get back on the horse.

It’s great that you’re close to debt free and doing better than just ‘surviving’.


I love your 3 ideas listed above and they work very well when put into practice. I know in my personal experience that if I start comparing myself to others too much, I feel myself lacking greatly. I try not to compare myself directly to others at all as I am my own unique person and have my own set of abilities and talents. I do look at what others do as inspiration at what one can acheive.


Thanks Jackson -these ideas are nothing new but it definitely helps to remind each other of them once in a while. 🙂

Bret @ Hope to Prosper

I agree with Jackson.

Everyone has to hold themselves to their own standard, instead of comparing themselves to others. And, everyone has to create their own definition of success, instead of striving to achieve success in someone else’s eyes.

I respect the successful bloggers and I draw inspiration from them. One day, I hope to be able to support myself and my family from my blog. In the mean time, just the fact that I enjoy blogging makes me successful, in my mind.


Very true, Bret, and good luck in your quest to blog full-time. At the end of the day its what you think of yourself that matters the most -I wrote about this here:


I would say the success of other people makes me want to do better. I grew up around alot of family members that had done really well in business and it’s hard to compete sometimes. But i do feel that it forces me to take more risks and have a drive to make more money.
It is really nice to have people to talk about investments or business ideas. Not everyone has that.

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