chess pieces

Other people’s success

ConfidenceSelf Responsibility

Sometimes we see other people succeed, and we feel ecstatic for them. Other times we see others succeed, and we feel envious. We judge them. We pick apart their success. We come up with excuses for why they got that success (and why we didn’t).

But here’s the kicker.

How we react to someone else’s success is not about that person. Instead, it’s all about what we make their success mean about us.

When we get jealous, annoyed, or aggravated about their success…

…it’s often coming from a place of comparison and feeling like we may not get there. We start to notice the things they did that we didn’t do, or that they have going for them that we don’t have. We make that mean they could get the success – and we can’t. We use it as evidence for how we aren’t successful. We wonder what we could have done, or we point fingers at others for how we were unjustly overlooked.

We talk about how lucky that person is, implying that if only we’d been given the same luck or opportunity, we could have gotten there, too. Deep down, it’s all about comparison. We use their success against us. It becomes a symbol of our own shortcomings. Or a symbol of our victimhood because we didn’t get the same chances. Or a symbol of scarcity, as if there is only so much success to go around and their accomplishment means there’s less room for you to get there.

When we get ecstatic for them and their success…

…often it’s because we use it as evidence that we too can get there. We are happy for them, and we don’t make it mean we are any less than. Instead, we may even make it mean that if that person can do it, then there’s hope. That it can be done. And that you could be the one to do it next. We don’t go to comparison, we go to support. The very fact that someone could get that accomplishment fuels us to feel optimistic that success is out there. We feel excited about this possibility, and we feel motivated.

We want to lift others up because we use that as further evidence for how it is possible to get there. We come from a place of comradeship and support instead of competition.

How can you apply this concept to your life?

Think about the recent successes of people you know. As yourself, how did I feel about that success? If it was anything other than a good feeling, realize it’s likely from competition and comparison, or a disbelief in you, that may be fueling your response.

Now, ask yourself, how is that person’s accomplishment good news for me? What do I want to make this mean about me? Because you get to decide what you want to make another’s success mean for you. And why not choose to make it something that motivates you. Why not choose to make it mean that it can be done, and you can learn from that person, and your success can happen, too.