Envy: The Tax Paid For Success

Another Monday meeting, Victor shook hands with the boss at the head of the conference table while the rest of the team gave the expected round of applause. Victor had been promoted. Again! Mike joined in the applause, grinding his teeth, looking everywhere and at everyone, except Victor. On the walk back to his office, Mike murmured “I deserved that promotion, I”m better than Him”.

Victor had joined the firm a couple of weeks after Mike. They had a lot in common: age, experience, lifestyle, sense of humor and very quickly became office ‘besties’. They were the go-to pair in the office. Needed something done? ‘Get Mike and Victor on it’. They regularly went everywhere together, brought in the highest customers, revenue and even partied together. They both rose through the ranks, getting bonuses and promotions. This had gone on for 2 years. Then last year, a supervisor role opened. They both applied, but Victor got the job.

Mike rationalized that Victor must have been sucking up to the boss in his absence. It could not have been a fair choice. He believed he was way smarter than Victor. The pair grew apart. The envy would eat Mike up so much, he would give Victor the silent treatment for weeks. Victor was always surprised at the cold attitude and slowly learned to stay away during those times.

Fast forward a couple more promotions for Victor, Mike had become the office grinch. Snapping at the younger recruits and telling everyone willing to listen how Victor lied and scammed his way to the top. Victor, on the other hand, saw Mike as a jealous friend who he had carried for years and had become bitter due to his inability to keep up. It is a natural human tendency to make comparisons especially when the human mind sees similarities. It’s partly due to our ego and our need to do more, especially in a society where people celebrate success.

One thing to keep in mind is that you have no idea what it took for them to get there. Don’t act like it was unearned, effortless, or luck. Instead, ask the real questions: What have they done to get where they are today? What do they have that I wish I had? What do I admire about them? These help us look inward rather than outward. Quickly turn your envy into admiration and use it as a motivator to achieve the things you truly desire. You will find you have better relationships with people all around you.

In the words of Harold Coffin – Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. Hopefully with time, Mike and Victor will learn to celebrate each other’s blessings and so would we.

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