I have been noticing role models in my line of work, lately. They are the pioneers, blazing new trails in the marketplace. They are enjoying success. That is great news… What’s bothering me is the faint hint of jealously. I ask, “What about my great news?” What was admiration and respect faded subtly and replaced with success envy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not failing. I just got a huge request for proposal for global organization, a great speaking gig sponsored by an international institute, and was featured in a national magazine! I’m not failing, it just feels like I am …in comparison to great innovators in my field. Don’t I deserve more?
Unfortunately, operating from an “I deserve” perspective is “disempowering and keeps people weak, unsatisfied and dependent on the outside world,” according to Dr. John Townsend. Townsend, a psychologist and leadership coach, suggests that if we take responsibility to do what is required to be “happy, or healthy, or to have a great marriage, or to find a meaningful job” then we take back the power to effect change.
Change “I deserve” to “I am responsible”. ~ Dr. John Townsend, The Entitlement Cure
Furthermore, here are the problems with comparing ourselves to others:
- Implies scarcity: Remember there is still enough for everybody. Believing that you are missing out exposes an attitude of closed-mindedness. It is time to get creative! (Review the Leader’s Field Guide: Mindset is Everything, What’s Yours? including links to Carol Dweck’s comparison table on Fixed and Growth Mindset.)
- Responds to only part of the story: When I listen to the genesis story told many entrepreneurs turned millionaires, I hear about folding chairs in garages and skipping meals to pay bills. Those rising to public view have had their share of struggle and disappointment, too. Oh, and social media notoriously brags about the successes. (For stories exploring entrepreneurial life, listen to NPR’s From Scratch.)
- Reveals hidden goals: If comparing yourself to others brings your true desires to mind, allow these concepts to redefine your goals. Goal Envy might be masquerading as Success Envy. Knowing the skills or solutions that still need work reveals your opportunities and defines your priorities. (Work with a certified coach to create an action plan around your goals.)
The good thing is we can shift from “I deserve” to “I am responsible” and take action! We can refocus from perspective of scarcity to belief that there is plenty for everyone. We can use the complete stories of others to remind us that success doesn’t just happen without some hardship and continuous effort. Finally, and most importantly, we can leverage Success Envy to reveal our own true goals and desires. If you completely shifted to “I am responsible,” for what would you take responsibility?
Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss the juxtaposition of being a content Christ-follower and having discontent as a business professional.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.