Question from a reader --
"Quick question (maybe not quick answer)
Some people that are very successful attract respect and devotion. Other people that are very successful attract jealousy. What's is the difference in the behaviour of the successful individual?
If I want to succeed in the long run, I prefer the former.
My guess. Maybe humility and value sharing play a part... or is this something not to be concerned about?
Actually, the answer is pretty quick -- it's about how you make others feel.
A few days I posted a quote from Thoreau:
> “Maturity is when all of your mirrors turn into windows.” -- Thoreau
The fact is, it's not your behavior or what you do or who you are that makes a person respect you, or be jealous of you, or love you, or hate you, or anything -- it's not your behavior at all, except indirectly. Rather, it's how they perceive you, and then how they feel about you, that marks how other people react to you.
To that end, it's worth noting that depending on what you're doing, it might not actually be possible to not provoke jealousy. If you're playing professional sports, you're almost certain to be envied or hated by the rival team. A very few people can transcend this, but it's typically not possible unless you've got a naturally incredibly intense work ethic and incredible charisma.
Take the New York Yankees. Red Sox hate pretty much all Yankees, except (maybe) Mariano Rivera, and a few years ago, Hideki Matsui. Both worked very hard, and both were naturally extraordinarily charismatic.
That kind of work ethic and charisma are to some extent inborn... the vast majority of players who play for the Yankees will be disliked by Red Sox fans, regardless of who they are and how they do. In fact, for particularly fiery competitors, a big key to their strength in play will generate the hostility.
Likewise, if you're doing any sort of finance and you out-perform, you'll face jealousy and dislike. Sure, you can do some things to mitigate it. And perhaps a few financial investing approaches won't attract jealousy -- like Buffet's of buy-good-things-with-good-management-and-hold-a-long-time. But if you're doing anything that remotely looks like efficiency-building or arbitrage, you're guaranteed to be hated by the people you're running into.
So, the answer on the surface is simple -- if you don't want to be envied, don't make people feel envious. In practice, that might not be the top goal you'd want to pursue... some arenas (most?) nearly guarantee envy to people successful in them, at least from some people.
Rather, I think you'd do well to define the people who want to interact with that you respect, and look to be respected by them in turn. The criteria for that tends to be more based in performance and just carrying yourself with decent dignity and care... while Red Sox fans dislike many players on the Yankees, they probably respect a majority of them for their excellent play. People hated in finance are still probably grudgingly respected by their peers in finance, so long as they have a bit of dignity about them.
Respect by people you respect yourself seems much more consistently achievable than respect by everyone, or non-jealousy and non-envy.
I just got a good email from a friend about emotions and biochemistry. It got me thinking.
Envy and schadenfreude are common emotions. People like seeing their opponents fail.
Is it possible to get over that? Would it be desirable to get over that?
I think envy and schadenfreude and hatred are usually a detriment to people feeling them. This is obvious enough when you're playing a positive sum game - because Positive Sum Games Don't Require Natural Talent, and have a near infinite opportunity for success. Disciplines like inventing, engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, mathematics, and the natural sciences work hand in hand. Every win by an inventor opens lots of doors for engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, math, and science. And indeed, for other inventors.
A lot of people mistake positive sum games - like the economy at large - for a zero sum game. They think that if you get money, they'll get less money. Of course, it doesn't work like that, as our exponentially growing standard of living shows. Even if someone loses a local conflict (to gain market share in a new technology, for instance) they can still go on to invent and innovate in a new field.
First things first, Derek Jeter has had an incredible career, and if any Yankee deserves a year-long farewell tour it’s him. He’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he’s one of the most decorated players of all time. The New York Yankees are honoring him by wearing a Jeter patch on their jerseys for the final month of the 2014 season, which is exactly what is wrong with the farewell tour.
At first, Jeter’s retirement announcement simply paved the way for teams to give him the farewell he deserves. Since then however, even the Yankees have made a bigger effort to make this season into an absolute circus. Again, Jeter deserves every honor he gets from other teams on his way out, but for Christ’s sake a patch on the Yankees uniform? You would think he has a terminal illness. Relax, Yankees. We respect one of your greatest players, but it’s time to get over yourselves for a second. I can only hope that the season David Ortiz retires, or to bring the topic to other sports, Tom Brady retires, that our teams don’t do this kind of crap. Yes, we love them. Yes, they’re arguably the greatest players who graced the uniform, but my goodness a uniform patch dedicated to them? While they’re still playing? What does that say to the other 24 guys on the roster? It says that they’re blatantly not as important and that the emphasis isn’t really on the team at all. I cannot remember a time in which a player was honored with a patch during his playing career. I can live with the silly gifts and ceremonies that honor his playing career, but this is too much.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but it just makes me sick. Never change, Yankees. It’s great to have a reason to hate you.