“There is no disappointment so numbing…as someone no better than you, achieving more.” 

Joseph Heller

Celebrating others’ success does not come easy for a vast majority of us. If there’s one thing I learned in life, it’s not to judge a person before I know who they really are. Every person you come across in life, whether they’re in an Armani suit or overalls, you can bet your life that person is facing their own struggles.

Our perception of successful people is that they were lucky enough to attain a certain kind of advantage over others. And although this might be true for some, the vast majority of us have to channel our burning desires to succeed and create our own advantage.

We see glitz and glamour, but what happens behind the scenes evades us. We don’t see what it took for them to get there. The grind, the endless failures, the blood sweat and tears, and the constant battle with their self esteems.

When we take these factors into consideration, it would make more sense to admire them and learn from them, instead of envying them.

Learning from the best

To learn from the best it is important to distinguish the real successes from the phonies. Truly successful people DO more and TALK less.

However, when they’re approached by likeminded individuals who ask meaningful questions, they may do a fair amount of talking (they’ve deserved it). Yet it’s the quality of what they say that matters and not what you see on the surface. Be aware.

Real success

Our legitimate high fliers are masters at what they do. When they talk, it’s a fervent rendition about what they do rather than how much they make. It is common for them to be less showy, as they are inclined to focus on their core competencies rather than surface-level gains.

Take Warren Buffet, for example, often referred to as the world’s greatest investor. He has the track record to back it up! His net worth is between 73 and 84 billion dollars, and yet he drives a 2014 Cadillac XTS, worth about 23 thousand dollars.

He is notoriously frugal, yet he’s always observed to be donating copious amounts to worthy causes. He’s also incredibly passionate about teaching others his strategies for success. Truly successful people find joy in sharing their formula to success with those who display the burning desire to do the same.

In contrast

Ever heard the saying: ‘all style, no substance’?

These are our imitation high fliers who have all the pomp and circumstance of the Jordan Belforts of the world. Their energy can only be matched by nuclear fusion and they ALWAYS have a lot to say.

Initially, it’s all about what they do and how well they do it. And they will find great joy in your awe of them. Their social media is littered with regular updates of their bountiful lifestyles, in the hopes of acquiring whatever virtual applause they can get.

It’s all sunshine and roses until they are questioned in detail about what they do. Sure they can talk circles around you, but are you learning from their long-winded jabber?

Take Bernie Madoff for example. Orchestrator and mastermind of the world’s greatest Ponzi Scheme. Our protagonist was so skillful at the art of beguiling, that he duped even the most influential authorities. At some point, he was even the chairman of the Nasdaq.

However, when his clients and peers asked him about his business model and how he achieved his outstanding results, he stifled. He weaseled his way out by threatening to bar anyone who questioned him, from his exclusive establishment. The only answer he provided was that it is too complicated for anyone to understand.

This should’ve been a red flag for any sophisticated business person or investor. Yet their impressions of what was being presented on the surface completed clouded their judgment. And the result of his deception was the utter destruction of his victims.

Choose your influencers wisely

These imposters are crafty at presenting their ability to generate cash as a measurement of success. Rarely do they display any tangible, endorsed track record of wealth, not cash, there is a huge difference. Cash is only short-lived. Wealth is forever.

Wealth is the real measurement of success. And as it takes a lot longer to achieve, the vivacious imitation high flier will always prevail.

So before you feel on the verge of envy, recognize that everyone has a story. However, that story might not always be the true presentation of what you see on the surface. Be aware.

How can you turn envy into ambition

The reason legitimately successful people are masters at what they do is that they have discovered their ‘WHY’. Your ‘WHY’ is your passion and purpose, and the reason for the choices you make.

1. Find your ‘WHY’

When you can clearly and concisely recount why you do what you do, it becomes second nature to excel at it. The reason why you choose something should be more prominent than the short term benefits thereof.

Are you doing something because it is what you love to do? Are you doing it to provide yourself and your family with a better standard of living? Will it feel like you’re working, or enjoying something you’re passionate about? Are are you doing it for short term gains, hoping it will somehow last forever or is someone or something holding you back from achieving your goals?

Finding your WHY creates a beacon of light that guides you in the direction that suits you best. Not everyone has the same desires and aspirations in life. The choices we make should be based on what we value most and the long term effects and consequences thereof.

2. Don’t get wrapped up in someone else’s story

Have you ever wondered why some people achieve great success when they’re not even really that good at what they do, or they don’t bring much value to the table?

That’s because their belief in themselves far outweigh their achievements. No matter what happens to demote their achievements, they’ll be back in the game with a new plan or strategy within a millisecond, because nothing and no one will sway their belief in themselves.

Some incredibly smart and talented people find it difficult to achieve that level of success, or even any success at all. These individuals commonly compare themselves to others to the point of downplaying their own capabilities. The sad truth is that their capabilities could probably supersede the person they’re comparing themselves to.

Getting too caught up in someone else’s story is an annihilation of your own. Focus on your intrinsic value and learn from those who know.

3. Is narcissism really that bad?

Narcissists are programmed to succeed. Their focal point is on their own needs, and this often leads to the neglect of everyone else. Yet narcissists have the uncanny ability to understand their value, as they do not live in the shadow of others.

They are not fearful of any viable competition and easily cast shadows on those who fall in their wake. No one can distract them from what they set out to achieve. They are known to inspire others and shape the future and often turn out to be the most revered leaders.

Think Henry Ford, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, and Mahatma Gandhi. They were so influential that you will rarely find someone who has never heard their names. They commanded respect by leading by example, and their belief in themselves never wavered.

Although the traits of narcissists are not the most highly regarded, they do play a major role in mind over matter situations. These traits are necessary for those who have an unwavering desire to succeed in life. Be sure to keep the right balance though, and not to alienate people. No one can ever achieve anything of great value on their own.

4. Just because it’s THE true, doesn’t make it YOUR truth

Your current circumstances do not dictate what, or who you are. Credentials are great to have, but they are not vital to your success.

Some of the greatest innovators of our time were college dropouts. Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College to become the father of all things Apple. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. What compelled them to go their own way, was their vision. Visionaries are the most valued of all entrepreneurs. Their perseverance and ability to succeed against all odds deserves great praise and recognition.

Although not everyone has the desire to be visionary entrepreneurs, we can learn a very valuable lesson from these icons. No matter what your circumstances are, there is always an opportunity to succeed. All we need to do is find it.

5. Other people’s success is not your failure

The next time you find yourself on the verge of seething with envy, take a step back and know that whoever that person is, they have their own struggles, their own story, and their own path. You can choose to be inspired by them or look the other way and pity yourself instead. The choice is yours.

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Hayley Carelse

Hi, I'm Hayley Carelse. I am passionate about learning and self-improvement. I'd like to inspire those who are keen to succeed in life and are determined to be their own greatest success story. Make your life, your business.


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