Make Envy Your Friend

The Green-Eyed MonsterNothing sharpens sight like envy.” ~ Thomas Fuller

Envy has a bad rap. It doesn’t have to poison.

Envy and jealousy, like fear, is just something we feel. And just like with fear, rather than fight it, you should understand it.

Envy as a Tool

How do you react when someone else achieves something great – particularly peers, colleagues, and competitors?

My guess is initially there’s a little envy, some jealousy. It’s natural. It’s not so much what you feel at first that matters, it’s what you do with it.

Our emotions are part of who we are. Learning to work with emotions, instead of trying to control them, helps us grow. It’s okay to get pissed off. It’s not okay to run the idiot talking on his cell phone in the middle of the parking lot over with your car.

How you choose to react to your emotions is what can create opportunities or problems.

  • An acquaintance’s company gets bought for 10 million bucks. You’re still plugging along. You feel envy.
  • Your peer gets funding for her home-based venture. You don’t get funding. You feel envy.
  • Your brother-in-law is able to quit his job, and work on his new project full time. You have to keep your day job. You feel envy.

Now what?

Understand why. Explore your envy. And at the risk of sounding like Brad Goodman, embrace your envy.

As Thomas Fuller said in the opening quote, use the envy to sharpen your sight. Use it to get motivated. If the person you envy deserves what they got, acknowledge it. If not, let it be your incentive.

If they can do it with that crappy [site / business model / attitude / logo color], you sure as hell can do it. Maybe even do better.

What do you think:

  • Has envy or jealousy helped motivate you or influence you in some positive way?
  • Do you see where it can?