Do you envy someone’s success? To most people, that sounds like a silly question in either direction. Firstly, we pretend not to envy anyone in our lives, yet we do so every day. So due to this pretense, you’re likely to shout “Hell, NO”! Secondly, there is an assumption that we all envy someone directly or indirectly. So due to this assumption, you’re likely to shout “Hmm… Yeah”!
Assuming the second school of thought above is right (which I think it is), why do we envy others?
Perhaps, you envy a co-worker or your boss; or your lecturer; or leaders in your industry; or a relative; or a friend; or even me (can’t believe you envy me though). Why do you envy these people?
Is it because they are obviously better than you, popular than you, richer than you, likeable than you or simply because they are who they are? Mind you, envy (in itself) is not bad at all! We all, at some point in our lives envy someone.
I personally envied (maybe I still do envy) artistes and performers like Michael Jackson, Madonna, etc.; sportsmen like Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather, Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Ussein Bolt, etc.; authors and speakers like Dale Carnegie, Malcom Gladwell, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Jim Rohn, etc.; businessmen like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim Helu, Aliko Dangote, etc.;
I don’t envy these people because I wish they were not who they are, but because I wish I was personally on the same level they are on. I sum, I just wish I was one of them! I believe you do have a list like this too. In fact, I am tempted to agree that ALL these people also had people they wanted to be like while growing up. So, I am not alone after all!
If, I wish I was on their level, why am I not there yet?
The truth is, envy, just like “talk”, is very cheap! It is very easy to envy someone ahead of you in something. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be the richest man on earth, or the best footballer on earth, or the most Grammy award winner ever, or like Abraham, the father of many nations? Almost everyone does! But have we really sat down to ask ourselves if we are ready to make the sacrifices these people made? Are we really ready to take the risks these people took to get there?
I remember a story where a very popular pianist. After one of his performances, he was enjoying his usual standing ovation when a woman from the crowd screamed at him “I will give everything to play just like you do”. “Really?” asked the pianist. “Yes, everything! I want to play as good as you do.” She answered. “No. You will give everything except TIME!” replied the pianist.
If we follow the story very well, we will understand it clearly that the pianist was right! Most of us won’t give ourselves the time to be like these people we envy. By time, I don’t mean what is showing on the clock right now. I mean time as a limited resource.
Most people want over-night success, which happens only in two places: in their dreams and in the media. The media often makes success easy and glamourous! If you follow the media, all you hear is, a team young college kids just sold their young company for “X” million dollars, or Michael Jackson just won yet another Grammy award or Lionel Messi just won the “Ballon D’or” for the fifth time, or Mayweather has won yet another fight aiming him go 18 matches unbeaten, or Ussein Bolt just broke another 100-meter world record.
What the media does not really publish is the enormous time and effort these people have put into their craft day-in day-out in a resilient manner. I recently discovered after Michael Jackson’s death that on average, he rehearsed his dance moves for about 18 hours every day! Michael Jordan will throw (and miss) over a 1000 to 10000 shots every day! Are you ready to do that?
Let’s consider Abraham (Ibrahim) from the Bible. Someone who has been promised to be the father of ALL nations never gave birth till was about 100 years old. To add insults to injuries, he was to sacrifice his only son as a test! Now tell me, will you willingly do that?
Talking about sacrifices, what is the greatest asset you have now that you are willing (or must be willing) to give up to achieve your goals? You probably admire “tech-preneurs” like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. What do they have in common? Well, they are all successful businessmen and founders and are all mega rich! But what we forget is the risk they all took: dropping out of college! How many of us (in our current economic crisis where education seems to be the top-notch thing), will be willing to give up their “Ivy League” education to follow some “silly” and risky, unlikely obsession called PASSION? If you had nine out of ten chances to succeed as a graduate and 1 out of ten chances to succeed as a college dropout, will you still go in for the latter?
Oprah, one of the most celebrated TV personalities was sacked from her media job because her boss thought she was “unfit” for TV; Einstein, the science genius, couldn’t talk till he was 4 years old and was described as “mentally retarded” by his teachers and Walt Disney, was fired because he lacked creativity. In the actual sense, almost all these people became the exact opposite of what their “critics” said. Can you stand such tough criticism?
Some successful billionaires like Carlos Slim Helu, John DeJoria and Elon Musk each has a popular story of starting off from nothing (totally broke and living off free meals or less than a dollar a day) to earning building business empires. Some even lived on the streets! Assuming you were in their shoes in those tough times and was told that you will be a billionaire, will you even have the guts to believe that?
Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s powerful and most celebrated presidents who couples as one of the few pioneers of modern day democracy never had his political journey easy! In fact, he is one of the few politicians in history who have lost in almost every election they contested in. Not only that, he suffered from a lot of health and relationship failures as well and yet arose to be the president.
In fact some people were actually assassinated for just following their dream to make the world a better place. Talk of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, and so on who had to “lose their dear lives” not for anything but for the fact that they were successful in their quest to make the world a better place! Are you ready to die for your dream or passion?
We can talk all day about this topic. But I will like you to ponder over the few scenarios in here. The next time you feel “envious” of someone, I want you to take a moment to critically peruse the biography of the person and ask yourself, “Will I do what this person did if I were them? Or, critically ask yourself “what am I not doing right to make me become one of these people?” Else, please do yourself a favour by not been envious of them but grateful that we have people like them making the world a better place because the “new law of karma” about successful people (according to my definition) states that “the more you envy someone for being successful than you are, the more successful they become!”