Jealousy at work is normal. If you’re someone who gets jealous of your workmates, I’ll offer 5 insights to help you move from ‘compare and despair’ to ‘believe and achieve’.
If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that when I first became a coach, I had a bit of an identity crisis which slowed down the growth of my business.
So while I was flailing about, I’d see new coaches (with less experience than me) already making $200K/year! They weren’t necessarily executive coaches, but they were a coach. And they were younger. And they’d been doing it for less time than me.
And that pissed me off… which is code for “I was really jealous”. I wanted that success for myself.
I know you can relate.
How many times have you seen someone get the opportunity, praise, or job you wanted, and you went straight to jealousy?
You wanted to feel excited for that person because you (mostly) knew they deserved it. But there’s also a big part of you thinking “why not me??”
And then you proceed to answer that question in your head by beating yourself up while simultaneously resenting all the powers that overlooked you and recognized someone else.
Done that. Been there. Have a wardrobe full of t-shirts.
I call it comparing and despairing.
And I’m going to say something you may not expect…
This is totally normal. You’re not an a**hole for wishing good things for yourself too. You’re simply human.
What I really want to cover today is how you can use that jealous instinct to your advantage by offering five insights for how you can leverage jealousy at work for your own success.
Yup… that’s what I said… leverage jealousy for growth.
And here’s why jealousy is useful.
Jealousy simply shows you what you want.
And knowing what you want is always good information. The questions I want to help you explore are;
- Why do you want whatever it is that you want, and
- What you make it mean that you don’t have it?
So if you’re someone who gets jealous of your workmates, then these five insights will help you move from ‘compare and despair’ to ‘believe and achieve’… (oooo that’s good!)
I’ll help you explore why you’re jealous, and then decide what you want to do with the jealousy…. I recommend using it as a trigger to ground yourself in confidence and focus (instead of spinning out in insecurity and envy).
1. Turn jealousy into inspiration by believing in yourself.
Jealousy is a normal human emotion. You don’t have to resist it.
It’s useful to know (or be reminded) that you also want a promotion, or praise from your boss or a place on that high-profile task force.
So far, nothing has gone wrong.
The only reason jealousy at work becomes un-useful is when you start going down the “I’m not good enough rabbit hole.”
If you stay grounded in believing you’re also worthy of what the other people are getting, that’s when you can turn jealousy into inspiration… “That’s something I want too” or “I’m going to work towards that as well”
That’s healthy competitiveness.
Unhealthy competitiveness comes from either believing you won’t get what they got OR that somehow you need exactly what they got in order to believe in yourself; e.g. “The boss never says ‘good job’ to me… I’m not be good at my job”
2. Remember, there’s not a finite amount of success in the world.
All boats float, my friends. There isn’t a finite amount of money or success in the world.
The idea that if someone else wins, then someone else has to lose (e.g. you), is a very black and white mentality. The truth is, there’s enough space for everyone to win.
And even if someone got the exact job you wanted, then maybe you decide to go to a different company for a similar role… or maybe you take a different job at your same company. Roles are created for people all the time.
Do you know how many VPs of what you do there are in the world? A lot.
So instead of using someone else’s success as a reason to tell yourself you have less, use it as inspiration to ‘get more’ a.k.a. achieve your goal.
3. Remind yourself that everyone’s life has ups and downs.
So today, your peer got promoted, or got put in charge of the thing, or got a public ‘way to go’. They feel great. And they deserve to.
Remember we’re all human, and all of our lives are filled with successes and challenges. Just because your peer is having a successful moment today, doesn’t mean their life is perfect.
Now… I’m not saying “don’t feel bad ‘cos their life will eventually suck too”…
…I’m saying let them have this great moment. And then remind yourself that you’ve had lots of great moments so far, and there are a lot more to come.
Today just might be one of those tough days for you – and that’s OK.
4. There’s a difference between jealousy and envy.
It’s common to put jealousy and envy in the same bucket, but I see them as very different.
In Star Wars terms, I think of envy as the dark side of jealousy.
Jealousy is the feeling that comes from thinking someone has something you want.
Envy is the feeling that comes from thinking someone has something you want… and you don’t want them to have it.
As an example, someone gets tapped for a big opportunity and then maybe they struggle a little at first and you’re happy about it.
Envy is the need to tear someone else down so you can feel OK.
I’m offering you this distinction so you can notice when and if you find yourself in envy. In those moments, you can remind yourself of points 1-3 in this post and reground yourself in the belief that you will also get everything you want when you stay focused on getting it.
5. Ground yourself in who you are and what you want
Sometimes we get jealous of things we actually don’t want. Or maybe there’s something deeper behind the want.
For example, my friend was wearing these g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s black boots the other day and I went to jealousy. But the truth is, I didn’t want the boots… I have three pairs of black boots in my closet already. It wasn’t about the boots. It was that she looked so chic and had an overall style that I aspired to.
Sometimes people get tapped for an opportunity and it’s not that you’re jealous of the opportunity. In fact, if you’re honest, you’re glad they didn’t tap you. You just want to be recognized.
So next time you feel jealous, ground yourself in who you are and what you really want.
Ask yourself if this jealousy is showing you something you really want? Or does the situation simply represent something else you want? Either way, remind yourself that you can have it too.
BOTTOM LINE: Jealousy is a normal human emotion and you’re not an a**hole for having it. Go ahead and feel it… but instead of beating yourself up (or tearing someone else down), use jealousy at work as a trigger to get curious about what it’s trying to tell you. As yourself why it’s here and what you can do to leverage it for growth.