Overcoming Entrepreneurial Envy in times of COVID-19

It’s only natural that when you become an entrepreneur, you’re going to want to connect and network with other successful entrepreneurs. It gets tricky, however, whenever some people in these social circles are doing well while others are not.

Entrepreneurial envy damages social ties and potential collaborations, and it’s particularly pernicious because it’s often unspoken. You might encounter this in one of three different scenarios: others are doing well (but you’re not) when you’re doing well (but others aren’t), and when no one’s really doing well (except for one lone star).

Here’s how to deal with each situation so that you can maintain your relationships with other entrepreneurs: 

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1. Others are doing well and you’re not.

People often distance themselves when they feel jealous of others’ success. But this is precisely the move that can make the problem worse.

Turning around this kind of envy means staying connected and asking questions of those who are successful. By doing so, it’s possible to glean what it is that your own business might be missing. The days of cutthroat competition and closely guarded secrets is an old, out-of-favor 1980s approach in today’s social age of Kickstarter and collaboration. There’s no longer a scarcity mentality that we’re all fighting for one slice of the financial pie. If you push past your jealousy to stay connected with those who experience success, they’ll often be happy to share what’s working well for their businesses, when asked. 

2. You’re doing well and others aren’t.

This is the flip side of the earlier problem: Now others might be tempted to distance themselves from you because they feel envious of your success. What’s more, you might find yourself downplaying your achievements or abilities in the hopes of saving someone else from feeling bad about experiencing their own rough patch.

To maintain connection and goodwill under these circumstances, step into a space of generosity and collaboration. One idea to bring everyone together? Suggest a get-together with the theme of “collaborating on how to face challenges within our industry” and invite a mix of people who are and aren’t faring well.

Treating the conversation as an industry conversation avoids directly pinpointing those who are struggling but potentially might offer them help. Furthermore, they might reveal something about how they’re struggling that helps you, too. For instance, you might learn from their mistakes and better bolster your business to avoid experiencing the same. 

3. No one’s doing well, save one lone star.

The dangerous energy at work in this situation is the tendency for several people to gang up on one person, for no other reason than the resentment that while everyone else is having a hard time, one person’s star is shining.

This is the zone where gossip is shared freely, comments that so-and-so’s work “isn’t really all that great, anyway” and accusations of unfair advantages are leveled. To put down the one person who’s doing well is divisive, reflects poorly on the person who’s gossiping and it’s hurtful to the one person who just happens to be doing well.

The first step in these situations is to recognize them as they’re happening and then choose not to participate. When you hear someone else starting off sentences with, “Well, I heard…” let that be a red-flag warning.

Respond to those comments with statements that turn the conversation in a more positive direction, such as “I’m trying to pay attention to the times when I hear these things and then feel worse about the situation. I’m mostly curious about what she’s doing that’s working so well because I’d love to replicate that for my own business.”

The next step is to reframe your envy as an opportunity to stay open to possibility. Instead of seeing someone else as having an unfair advantage, reframe his or her advantage to be exactly the kind of lucky break that you’d love to have. And remember that when many people are struggling, there’s a tendency to believe that things are impossible. But this lone success story is a contradiction to that and proof that it can be done. 

While it can be hard to admit, envy may point you toward those places where you desire to claim something for yourself. Instead of letting it feed and grow larger, turn around those feelings. At the end of the day, it’s the people whom you interact with who will add much of the richness and meaning to your business life. So rather than moving away from others, stretch yourself past the envy and into bolstering alliances.

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If we look hard enough we will always find someone just like us who has done more, who earns more, who has a better body, a more attractive partner, who has a bigger house, better children and so on. So why on earth torture ourselves by actively looking for people like this?

People who are inspired by the achievements of others, see the achiever and see the possibility of what they can do and be themselves. They see someone who has ‘made it’ as a role model, as a motivator and as proof that they are on track to achieve their own goals and dreams.

For the people who look at the achiever with envy and even resentment, all of their fears, insecurities, and frustrations come bubbling to the surface.

It is okay to admit if you feel envy and resentment at others’ success but start doing something about it. Surely it would be much better to look at these achievers and to be inspired by them rather than resentful of them?

The best way to start doing this is to look at success a little deeper. Most of the time we find out about someone once they have become a success. In other words, we only see the final product. Everything looks perfect and the successful person is the epitome of all the things that deep down we want to be.

The bits we don’t see are the sacrifices they have made, often over many years, to achieve their dreams. We don’t see the things they missed out on to achieve their goals and we certainly don’t see the price they have paid.

I remember listening to an interview with Ian Thorpe, Australia’s swimming legend, talking about the life he led to become a gold-medal Olympian. Every single day, from when he was a kid, he was in the pool from 5 am for hours before school. Then, after school and on weekends, he was back in the pool, again for hours. Imagine the things he missed out on as a kid. Imagine what it must have been like day after day, year after year, getting back into that pool, swimming lap after lap? Most of us would give up after a few days!

Zig Ziglar, entrepreneur, and the all-round guru said, ‘Success is dependent upon the glands – sweat glands.’ I see so many people who are hugely successful in business and have all of the trappings of success. What is the common trait they all share? They work incredibly hard. The sacrifices that many of these people make to succeed in business are really quite daunting. They have to risk everything and they often fail before they achieve success.

It is hard to imagine this if you have never had your own business, but think what it would be like if your world could come crashing down pretty much every day due to circumstances beyond your control, like a global financial crisis. Why would you bother? Who would live with this risk? Millions of people do.

If we are prepared to do everything they have done – work crazy hours, have enormous amounts of stress and sacrifice time with family and loved ones – we can have the same degree of success. Of course, there is no guarantee, but if you are not prepared to put in the effort, I guarantee that you won’t have success.

Even those people who appear to become successful easily have put a huge amount of effort into getting where they are. Even more simple success – like a friend who seems to have their life together, the perfect partner, a good job, a nice car and so on – takes effort and sacrifice and hard work, just in a different way. They have worked on themselves, either consciously or not, and made their life the way they want it to be. We can all do this, but it won’t happen unless we make it happen.

Being envious of other people’s achievements in life is not healthy. We need to be aware as soon as we slide into this frame of mind and snap ourselves out of it. Instead, be inspired by what others achieve and learn from their success. What can you take from their stories and apply them to your life?

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Source: forbes.com.mx, entrepreneur.com, inc.com

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