Yesterday I wrote about the dangers of comparing yourself to other people. I said, "Comparison leads to arrogance or shame, but never happiness." A number of people responded and said things like, "but what if it inspires you to step up your game? What if it makes you say, 'If so-and-so can do it, so can I?'" I think the feedback I got helped me see something important, there's a big difference between inspiration and comparison. Seth Godin inspires me. The way he writes, the way he communicates his view of the world, the way he takes risks inspires me. Robin O'Bryant inspires me. I wrote about her in my new book Do Over because when she was told "no" by every publisher she didn't give up. She self published, sold her books out of her trunk and eventually hit the New York Times Bestsellers list. Those are two, of the many, people who inspire me, but inspiration is not the same thing as comparison. Let's look at some of the differences:

At what age do you stop having nightmares about college? Because I'm apparently not that age yet. The details are always the same. I've skipped class all semester but suddenly showed up for the day of the final. And it's one of those classes where 100% of your grade is based on the final. I start to sweat and run to the administration building to drop the class, but I've missed the cutoff. It's too late! Then I wake up. Have you ever had that particular nightmare? The other one I sometimes have is about writing research papers. When I was in college, nobody had personal computers, instead we had personal hells called "Computer labs." These stress chambers were rooms, often located in windowless spaces in the library basement, that contained the most temperamental computers ever built. You never knew if they were going to work or if the printer would jam or worst of all, if you'd actually get one when you showed up in the lab. The worst feeling was walking through that door and realizing all the computers were already taken by other people who were better prepared than you.

One afternoon my wife and I were moving a few things around in our garage. Suddenly the largest, blackest, hairiest shape I’d ever seen sprinted across the floor. It was like a loaf of Panera bread wearing a poorly constructed fur coat and ugg boots. We had a rat. A large, easy to Google and terrify yourself even more, honest to goodness rat. The worst part was that it hadn’t run out the garage door. It had simply relocated to a different shelf under which to hide and rat multitask. Had it sprinted out the door, I would have assumed it was going on an adventure, perhaps with a talking dog and I would have moved on with my life, thankful for the many lessons that rat had taught us. I went to Home Depot and got as many different rat traps as I could find. The only thing they had to have in common was that they had to end in rat murder and I needed a body. I was not looking to rehabilitate this rat on some farm upstate where he’d have fields to run about with his rat friends. I also didn’t want some poison I couldn’t trust to finish the job. If this was an action movie, I planned to shoot the rat multiple times to make sure he was dead and take his gun with me. If that bothers you because you are a rat activist, my only response is that you should really call yourselves, “ractivists.” You’re missing out on a pretty awesome opportunity. You’re welcome.

(Today is a guest post from Casey Lewis! He's a regular contributor to this site and is awesome!) As a dreamer and entrepreneur I tend to go hard. When there’s rubber on the road I only know how to go one speed. Fast! But I’m learning that the...

I hate to brag. People are constantly telling me, "Hey guy, who's face is in every email you send out and splashed prominently on the header of your blog, you're too humble! Live a little!" But most days I refuse, content to live in the Internet shadows. A quiet pixel cobbler, working in silence on tweets and blog posts. Today though, I will brag. I will tell you proudly of a New Year's Resolution I have kept for close to four decades. Pray tell, what could this be? What feat am I about to share? Brace yourself, winter isn't coming, it's already here, but the knowledge I am about to drop on you is heavy like Marty McFly warned.

Empty Shelf Last January I started something called "The Empty Shelf Challenge." The goal was simple, "Read more books in 2014 than you did in 2013." Instead of just casually reading, I challenged people to take a photo of their empty shelves and then add each book they finished over the year to it. There are now 4,477 photos of books people have read on the Empty Shelf Challenge Pinterest board. I only read 12 this year. Ross, from the Twitter image above, crushed me. Why did I read so few? Because I made four mistakes:

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