“I’m so happy for you!”
How many of us have said those words to a colleague after a big win, but beneath the surface we felt less than unwavering joy for the other party?
I’m not the only one, right?
When a peer lands a big account, receives public praise from the chief executive or gets a promotion, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions. You want to be happy for them. You ARE happy for them ... and you’re also a little (or a lot) jealous. Even the most well-intended amongst us can be caught off-guard when the green-eyed monster makes an appearance.
As a competitive person, my drive to achieve has helped propel me forward in life. My competitiveness has also held me back when it translates into constantly judging myself and setting unachievable goals in the quest to “measure up.”
Here are a few strategies I’ve developed to keep envy at bay:
1. Embrace happy jealousy.
Jealously is normal. Humans are called “the comparing creatures” for a reason. Telling yourself not to feel jealous pushes that emotion right into your subconscious. It will likely make an (unwanted) appearance later. Instead, make peace with what I call happy jealousy.
Happy jealousy is when you’re really happy that a positive thing happened to someone else, and you also want it to happen to you. I coined the phrase years ago when an author who I was working with hit a best-sellers list that I had been coveting for years.
She worked hard, her book was great and I was truly happy for her. And I desperately wanted to be on the list, too.
You can allow yourself to feel both of those emotions at the same time.
In most cases, there are more best-sellers lists to be had, more promotions to be won, more sales to be made and more lives and businesses you can transform. In other words, there’s enough success to go around. Use your happy jealously to be supportive and propel you forward at the same time.
2. Create shared rallying cry.
Viewing another person’s achievements through the lens of a common goal is another great way to mitigate envy. When another person does achieve, be it a big sale, a promotion or public praise, look at it through the lens of your shared goals. Their success today paves a path for your success tomorrow.
For example, if you work for an IT company and your firm’s goal is to make small businesses more successful, your peer’s ability to land a huge account contributes to the shared goal. That’s one more business you can use as a reference, and one more business that is more successful as a result of your firm’s work.
(In the second edition of “Selling with Noble Purpose,” I wrote an entire chapter on why “Kill the Competition” is not a rallying cry.)
3. Don’t compare your every day to someone else’s best day.
Yes, you saw this person land a big promotion. They were absolutely beaming. But did you see them crying in the bathroom last year after losing a huge customer account? Probably not.
Don’t compare your whole life to someone else’s highlight reel. Take a moment to remember that you, too, have had peak moments. You will have more of them.
When you’re an ambitious person, tinges of envy are normal. Letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your mind, however, will bring your performance (and happiness) to a screeching halt.
Learning how to appreciate others’ accomplishments, knowing they rarely diminish your own, is a lifelong practice of high achievers.
– Lisa Earle McLeod is a consultant and the author of several books. For more information, visit McLeodandMore.com.