Three Reasons People Have Trouble When Others Succeed

In a kingdom view, we want the best for others. We encourage others to succeed. When one ministry or ministry leader is making a difference, it’s a win/win for everyone working toward the mission of the church with a capital C.

But people sometimes have trouble watching others succeed.

Whether you need to come to terms with the success of others OR you need to move ahead despite criticism, you may wonder why people have trouble with the success of others. Here are three reasons that come from the book, Burn The Boats by Matt Higgins:

  1. Envy – This is probably the most prominent. Too often, people lash out at the success of someone else because it reminds them of the success they wish they had in their lives.
  2. Discomfort – Sometimes people are antagonistic about another person’s success because they feel more comfortable in the status quo. Success often means change and change often brings discomfort.
  3. Exposure – People who feel inferior may feel the need to cut down a person who they see as being more successful. Instead of focusing on building their own success and strength, they focus on their inadequacies and feel like a failure by comparison.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

This phrase originated in Australia and New Zealand, where poppy growers keep all poppies roughly the same size for a uniform and beautiful look. Poppies that grow much taller than the others are cut down. This has become a metaphor for those who cut down or criticize successful people who stand out from others.

These types of attitudes have translated into many areas of life, including promotions in the workplace, programs being cut for gifted students, and comparisons that lead to bullying on social media.

Be Inspired

As depressing as this information may seem, it’s also inspiring. Here are a few ideas for taking advantage of the inspiring side of things:

  • Encourage successful people around you. They need as much encouragement as you do. Encouraging others with humility will lift your attitude.
  • Shift your energy from comparison to succeeding. Focus on your work. Get down to the nitty gritty. Get moving and stop worrying about what others are doing.
  • Keep a kingdom mindset of serving. We are called to be faithful with what we have. Keep living out your calling and trust that God has you where he wants you right now.
  • Turn outward to help others instead of turning inward and sulking. We most often have a better sense of self worth when we are serving than when we are cutting down, complaining, or hibernating.
  • Pray for those around you. Pray for successful people and people who want to feel successful. Everyone has a dream to accomplish. Pray for them to make it happen and help in any way you can.

The book, Burn The Boats by Matt Higgins, also gives good insights into tossing plan B overboard and moving ahead in life as the Lord calls, leads, and directs. Read my post on that topic here.

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