Back in the early days of starting my business, I remember having some ugly moments. I would find myself looking around at the other entrepreneurs I knew and wishing for a piece of their action. There always seemed to be someone else doing more, making more, and achieving more than I was. And when I wasn’t careful, those comparisons would deflate me and cause me to wonder if I should just give up and throw in the towel.
Maybe you’ve felt that way, too? Maybe you’ve watched friends, colleagues, family members, anyone else do or achieve something you wanted to and started to hate them for it (even if you never tried)?
Success can feel hard, and when you’re climbing up a hill, it’s so easy to look at others and think of how much easier/better/luckier they have it, and then to want some of that for yourself too. But from the time we are born, we are never told how to handle jealousy. We’re never given the tools to manage it responsibly.
But like so many things in life, jealously doesn’t have to be bad. It’s just a feeling. And it’s what we do with that feeling that makes it “good” or “bad.”
When I was in my jealous-woes all those years ago, my partner said to me: “It’s normal to be jealous, but don’t leave it at that. What can you learn from their success that will help you create success for yourself?” And just like that, I was given a formula to turn something ugly and destructive into something productive and helpful.
Jealousy is okay. We don’t have to wallow in despair and self-pity when we see others being successful. We don’t have to see their success as a reason to give up on our own. (There is enough success out there for all of us). We don’t have to quit just because someone else already did what we want to do. And we don’t have to stop just because someone else is ahead of us.
We can choose to be inspired instead of jealous. We can choose to open up instead of shut down. We can choose to see a role model instead of a rival. And most important, we can choose to use our envy to fuel us and drive us instead of stopping us in our tracks.
It’s not easy, but it can be that simple. We can use our envy for good.