Overcoming Success Envy

Photo Source: Artem Bali via Unsplash.

Melanie Childers – Have you ever felt envious of a friend’s success? Or someone you admire?

Perhaps a better question is HOW OFTEN do you feel envious of others’ successes?

If you’re a somewhat ‘average’ human being, I’m going to guess the answer is fairly regularly, especially if you’re a high achiever or have really big dreams!

Our brains compare other people’s amazing Insta life to our own hum-drum daily lives. And when we do that, it’s easy to feel envious and want what someone else has.

That, friends, is a quick road to unhappiness and frustration. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Let me explain…

Recently a colleague and I put together a video for a reality TV show. They were looking for people EXACTLY like us and it made perfect sense because we’re super hilarious and fun together. We thought the producers would see that and bring us on as a duo. But, a week later only my friend had heard back from them. They weren’t taking duos and wanted her to submit a video by herself. I got no such email.

Put yourself in that situation for a second and imagine how you’d feel. Not so awesome, right?

Now, I could have let this reallllllly send me into competitive mode – feeling envy, anger, and frustration; beating myself up; choosing to distance myself from my friend; and all the other ways the patriarchy has taught us to snipe at and compete against each other.

Here’s the fun part though: I realized that I had a choice about how to react. I had a choice! And I was aware of it before my old pattern – the default competition reaction – took over!

If you’ve worked with me, you know that I celebrate every tiny bit of that piece of awareness with my clients. Being able to stop yourself, notice that you’re having a thought, and MAKE A CHOICE before reacting or spiraling is a MASSIVE piece of the work I do. And yes, I still have to do it myself daily!

I could choose either the road of envy or the road of celebration. I got to choose. Yes, that seems very simple and obvious, but it’s incredibly powerful to be in that moment before having thoughts and feelings about a situation and realize that YOU GET TO DECIDE.

The road of envy would have been easy – it’s an old pattern and happens without thought. It’s automatic. It’s the default. Yet the awareness of the fact that I had a choice was new. I caught myself in that moment *right before* I went down the envy road with ‘wait, I have a choice and it doesn’t have to be this one.’

So I decided in an instant that it didn’t matter who got a call back and who didn’t. What mattered is that our work – collectively – is moving forward no matter what. It could have been either of us. It doesn’t matter. What matters MORE is that our work moves into the public sphere, wakes people up, and makes a difference. It matters that culture changes, campaigns and candidates change, that government changes, that people change.

It doesn’t matter how, it only matters that it happens. The end result is the same, no matter who is in the spotlight. It’s the purpose and the mission that matter.

That’s how you let go of the ego and practice servant leadership – by letting the mission and purpose matter the most. By being in service to the mission itself. Not the glory. Not the spotlight. Not the kudos.

And yes, I did take a moment to let myself have some feelings about my disappointment at the outcome. Those feelings are normal, healthy, and valid. It’s important to acknowledge them, honor them, and release them.

I gave myself 2 hours to let my mind tell me the story about all the shoulda, coulda, and woulda, how wronged I could have felt, and outcomes I should have had, and the story I could choose to believe if I wanted to. (P.S. The real reality here is that TV is fickle and there are a million and a half reasons why I may not have been the right fit and yet, none of them have anything to do with me as a person.)

At the end of that 2 hours, I got up, brushed myself off, and decided it was far more important to me that this work moves forward no matter what.

My friend has earned this, deserves this, is going to rock this and I’m going to support her no matter what. And you know what? She would 100% do the same for me. Even if it was hard. If the roles had been reversed, she might have had to get past some feelings too, but in the end, she’d be right by my side holding my hand no matter what.

Because that’s what we have to do for each other. That is how we come together and move forward.

That’s how women change the world. We lift each other up. We celebrate each others’ successes. We work together for the good of all. We rejoice in each others’ growth and choose to grow together. We hold a hand out to those who are just behind us so they can come along too.

We stop fighting to win for just ourselves and fight to win for us all.


Melanie Childers, MEd, is a Master Certified Confidence and Leadership Coach, activist, yogi, writer, educator, and is best known as The Enlightened Badass. She is passionate about working with progressive women and entrepreneurs in building confidence and reaching their professional and political goals. Find Melanie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Republished with permission.