I’m not a fan of rivalries. My preference is to work with people instead of letting jealousy and envy create bad feelings.
I choose to think of others as colleagues and collaborators over competition. Still, it happens. Most of us have rivals, whether they’re real life or someone we only encounter online.
Sometimes it seems like that other person is getting ahead while we fall behind, other times it s as if they copy everything we do and get ahead anyway. It’s frustrating, for sure, but there’s probably no malicious intent.
I guess my big take away is that I learned from each and every rivalry. When people try so hard to get the best of us, or to copy us, or to keep us from getting ahead it means we’re doing something right. When we think they’re trying to get the best of us, and they’re not, it means we need to explore why another person’s success causes us to react in this manner.
Today I was thinking of my five brothers and sisters and how we all have our own unique gifts, gifts that sometimes caused envy. It had me pondering the different types of rivals I had over the years, and the important lessons learned.
I was never the “stand out” sibling in my family. I didn’t apply myself at school, wasn’t the cutest and didn’t really have special skills (beyond writing) that set me apart from the rest. When I was young it created feelings of jealousy, but as grew older I realized that to be a standout member of the family, (and life, in general) I had to work hard to make it so. Success rarely happens to people who do nothing.
Lesson Learned: Standing out means applying one’s self and working hard to get ahead.
Good grades don’t come easy. Being a musician or athlete takes years of practice. Even being a good friend takes effort. So, it hit me that I could sit around and think about why my sisters had better jobs or living situations, or I can do something about it. I stopped trying to find everyone else’s passion and found my own instead. I learned that taking a simple way out isn’t necessarily taking the best way out. I worked hard, and hard work paid off.
Here’s the thing about friends. We love them, but sometimes we don’t want to see them do better than us. I mean, we’re supposed to be truly happy for our friends and their success, right? Still, there’s always that one friend for whom everything comes easy. The good job, the all-American family, the fancy car. We grew up together, why does that person always have it better?
Lesson Learned: Count your blessings and don’t take everything at face value.
My friend who had everything? She had stuff, and stuff doesn’t equal everything. She wasn’t happy in her marriage. She hated her job and not too many people liked to be around her because all she did was complain. I learned to count my blessings. Perhaps I’m not rich or great looking, but I have a beautiful family, a roof over our heads, a job I enjoy and we don’t really want for anything. Things aren’t always as perfect as we want other people to see them, and everyone has flaws. Even the Joneses have to keep up with someone.
The frenemy is different from friends because frenemies don’t really want us to get ahead. They’re friends to our faces, but snark about us behind our backs. Really, the only recourse is to stop trying to please or be like them. And, does it matter how well someone who doesn’t like us is doing?
Lesson Learned: It doesn’t matter what our frenemies think because they’re not really people who we need to prove anything to. Also? Do unto others.
Don’t give it a second thought.
Business rivals are frustrating. It feels as if you’re always competing for jobs, raises, promotions and praise. The worst part is when you put in all the effort and the rival just sort of rides your coattails into glory. There are also situations where you both put in 100% effort and it feels as your rival (or vice versa) is the one who is getting ahead – despite your best intentions.
Lesson Learned: Working together for a common goal yields better results than working apart or sabotaging another person’s efforts.
I think friendly rivalries or amicable competitions are kind of fun. They encourage us to do our best and give us a goal. It’s when the rivalry takes on a negative note that we have to wonder what we’re hoping to achieve by letting rivals get the best of us. I prefer to find a way to work together as colleagues. A strong team effort can go a very long way.
When it’s not a rivalry at all
My most important lesson about rivalries? Half the time it’s all in our head.
- That person who we think is out to get us, isn’t out to get us at all. We’re just not on our game.
- The person who has it all worked hard to get it all.
- Jealousy and envy cloud judgment.
- Hard work trumps luck.
Not everyone is a rival. Viewing others around us as a competitor sort of makes us look paranoid. We need to stop being creeped out by another person’s good fortune and stop trying to write off someone’s good fortune as luck. Hard work is what gets most people to the top, if we’re not up there it’s no one’s fault but our own.