My grandfather once said that meanest feeling of which any human being is capable is feeling bad at another’s success.
It’s true. Bitter jealousy gets us nowhere. It’s like taking the poison and waiting for somebody else to die.
What’s interesting is, there’s also a converse to that equation. Because the only thing more toxic than allowing the success of others to spark our resentment is allowing the failure of others to stimulate our inaction. Then both parties lose. Nobody learns anything. The world doesn’t move forward.
And so, the goal is to respond to missteps with maturity. To replace resentment with responsibility. To fuel that frustration into our work. And to approach other people’s failures and mistakes and setbacks as a glowing source of inspiration for our own work, constantly asking ourselves what steps we have to take to avoid falling into the same traps.
I have a colleague whose business is experiencing significant decline. To the point that she may have to get a second job to help pay the bills. When she first told me, I was terrified for her. It broke my heart to even have that conversation. Because I understand that the anxiety and shame and dread around that kind of situation is overwhelming.
And yet, I was mindful of the undertow. I refused to view my colleague’s failure as the approximate shape of things to come. In fact, I used her story as a wakeup call. A bell of awareness whose reverberations motivated me to work even hard on my own company.
The point is, it’s a matter of mindset. We can view the world as a multitude of forces conspiring to divide us against ourselves, or we can view the world as a continuous succession of extended hands hoping to help us along the journey.
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How are you using other people’s failures as fertilizer?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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