My team was calculating benchmark comparisons for a client, and I called an abrupt mental break. Really, how similar are these peer companies? Is Ford the same as General Motors? Coca-Cola and PepsiCo? Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi? Are company components – like people, process, or technology – commodities to be easily transferred? How much of one company would need to be replicated elsewhere in order to produce similar results? Yes, we can compare metrics to identify and apply best practices in domains, but ultimately an organization has its own history, culture and structure at a point in time. It has only one true peer…itself.

“…if you want to rework Matisse, you’ll just be a bad Matisse, that’s all.” -Donald Judd

It’s similar with individuals. Your specific personality, choices and environment present you as a peer of one. Demographics provide little insight, even in how we age. Look around to challenge yourself, make only mindful comparisons, and strive to be a better version of yourself, everyday.

“If your goal is to be better than you were – if you’re competing only with yourself – it’s a more realistic place to be.” -Rick Rubin