Other People’s Success
How Do You React?
It was the first thing announced as she came in the door. Carla, a recent graduate and my friend's eldest daughter told us that her friend was offered a full time position at the company where they both worked part time during college. It was a job Carla might have wanted herself but she had not made that known. Now she just had one thought: Why couldn’t that have happened to me? It was an honest reaction.
Danielle listened intently as I relayed the story of a man who had come through extreme hardship to ultimately achieve extraordinary success. As I concluded, her assessment was: Well, he was lucky. That astonished me because what I found striking about this person’s life were the very conscious decisions he made, his determination, and hard work.
How do you react when you hear about other people’s success?
Pedestal or Put Down
Two common reactions are both distortions:
Pedestal thinking takes a person’s gifts, skills, or personal qualities and elevates them to such a level that their success seems unattainable and foolish to emulate. It concludes that greatness is for other people, not you. Rather than allowing that person’s success to inspire you, it is seen only as a remote possibility.
The Put Down is a different type of dismissal. It's often delivered as a backhanded compliment in which the achievement is labeled as dumb luck or unfair. It implies the person is overpaid, under-skilled, or cheating the system in some way. It goes like this: Well sure, you can do that when you come from money. When you know someone in the business. When you’re single and have no responsibilities. When you’re married and aren’t the sole supporter. You can do that when…
All this thinking does is distance you from success. It’s fixed on all the reasons other people’s methods won’t work for you.
Perhaps there are some valid reasons you’re not completely inspired by that person’s success. Maybe there are parts of the story that are random with no apparent formula to be duplicated. And you might not admire all of how the success was attained or the values that were sacrificed to get there. Still, is there any part that might inform you before dismissing it summarily?
Good for them!
Let other people’s success point you toward possibility. This is what Carla’s mother encouraged and it is helping Carla realize that her career options are many and it will be necessary to speak up when interested in potential opportunities.
Before judging other people to be better, different, worthy, or unworthy, consider what you can learn from their success. If not inspired, at least be curious.
This Week’s Call To Action:
- The next time you hear of someone’s achievement, ask yourself: What strikes me about how that person did that? What can I learn? How can that motivate me?
- Even if you don’t admire the whole story, what parts are useful?
Good for them is good for you. Entertaining even a sliver of possibility changes everything.
See you in the current,
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