The success of other people does not equal your failure

I want to say something – something important.

The success of other people does not equal your failure.

Think about the last time that someone you knew – a friend, family member, or acquaintance – did something amazing. Perhaps she published a novel or he was interviewed on CNN or she struck gold with an awesome business idea. Or maybe he wrote a blog post that garnered hundreds of comments…in one hour. Or she was invited to a Microsoft or Disney or Nikon event.

Did you immediately celebrate for your friend – in your heart and in your actions? Or was there a sinking feeling inside of you, a little voice that said, “Not you. Not you. It could have been you, but it’s not you.

I think it’s human nature to feel secretly distressed by other people’s success, because – you could have won that prize or been featured in the Times or come up with that business plan or baked that cake that awed everyone at the party. It could have been you! {But it wasn’t}.

So, you feel a little bit smaller, a little bit defeated and deflated.

But I want to tell you to stomp on that voice, to hit the mute button. Because there is room. Plenty of room.

There is room for your creativity, your ideas, your writing, and your success. I know it feels like the party is crowded, that you’re being pushed to the back of the room (“standing room only”) or out of the door, with a martini and a hors d’oeurve in your hand, shuffling your feet nervously. But that isn’t true.

So please don’t hesitate to celebrate your friend. GO now. Buy her book. Tell everyone you know to watch him on TV. Share an idea to help her business become even more successful. Comment on his blog post. Buy her a souvenir for that super-awesome, invitation-only event. Yes.

Don’t let that record play. The one that beats down at your soul and points fingers at your ambition and sings in a jeering tune, “Not YOU! You could have done it. But it’s not you!

Instead, turn on the symphony – the beautiful, inspiring one that says, “There’s room. There’s room enough for everyone.”

And when your friends make it, when they’re up there among the stars – celebrate them…clap…scream your lungs out…cheer…give them more ideas  – so that they can shine even brighter.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret. As you give more, you’ll start shining brighter too.

  • Vanessa

    So true! Even though it is our human nature to want to be jelous, the more we celebrate others, the more we shine!

  • Naomi

    Absolutely. It’s doesn’t do you any good to begrudge someone else’s good fortune. Negativity tends to foster more negativity. If you’re happy for someone’s success, you’ll be more likely to create your own.

  • jennifer

    What a great post! Thanks, I really needed that today!

  • Nini Lettner

    AMEN! Thank you for the reminder. I LOVE to celebrate the successes of those that I know, and even those that I don’t. Seriously, great post, great reminder, and a great challenge! You are so inspiring and encouraging!!

  • Amy @ Finer Things

    So, so true! Thanks for the reminder. :)

  • elizabeth

    “There’s room. There’s room enough for everyone.”

    I love this post. Friends’ successes should inspire us and make us happy, not jealous. And while it’s OK and normal to have that little voice in the back of your head, it’s much more fun to mute it and celebrate with friends! Thanks!

  • Madeline

    Very, very true! Jealousy is awful and sneaky. We are all prone to it, but it doesn’t do anything but harm to us and to others. Anyway, a good celebration is way more fun than a pitty party.

  • Corinne

    I think so many of us need to read this, often! Thank you :)

  • Andrea Childs

    Stephanie, the timing of this is perfect (even ironic!) and the truth of it simple but profound.

  • MaryBeth @ FourSillySisters

    So true! Love it!!

  • Soni

    I’m amazed at the amount of women that support each others business ventures – even their own competition! This post is a great reminder of why that is so important – good post!!

  • Melinda J

    Great reminder! Thank you.

  • JeanineE

    Thanks for sharing such an honest, true and real reminder. Emotions can be so fickle.

  • workout mommy

    yet another reason that you are so awesome! :) Many hugs from Virginia!!!

  • Jillian

    Thank you. You really encouraged my heart tonight!

  • Adventures In Babywearing

    It’s true that it is our nature to want praise and be jealous of others’ praise. I was at a presentation yesterday that was enlightening- I was reminded that (if you ARE dealing with a failure) just because you don’t get the desired outcome of an idea, doesn’t mean that it must be scrapped. Some of the most amazing successes came from a past failure. What can you turn that failure into?


  • Liz

    Thanks, you are soooo right! I have really been struggling with this lately, through forms of jealousy, and low self-esteem feelings, so this really helped me!! :-)

  • Marcela

    I really love your posts. Very true, sometimes we are too busy admiring everyone else’s gains to stop and look at ours. We might of not gotten what that other person got, but we may have something that they long for too.

    Being happy with who you are is so important. You may have very little but really have so much if you look at it in aother way.

  • Autumn B.

    I LOVE this post – the variety you write about is one of the reasons you’re top on my “mom” blogs — it’s not all about reviews & just “your” family – but rather you showcase your great depth of thoughts & knowledge!

  • Amy

    I have to saw thank you for such a great post. I so often find myself comparing my weaknesses to other people’s strengths. It’s so hard to remember that we can’t be awesome at everything, and we’re also not going to have the same opportunities as other people- even if we are as talented or creative. We each have our own path – a path to embrace and love.

  • Casual Friday Every Day

    All so true. I often feel nothing but joy for the success of others. I notice when the “envy” bug creeps into my heart is when it’s the same person over and over and over again. That is when it gets harder to stomp on that little jealous voice in my heart. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though :)


  • Sarah@EmergingMummy

    I think you really hit the nail on the head. We can feel so lost in the shuffle in our lives sometimes, even in bloggy-land. So many times the one that we think has so much success etc. really could use our kind words. I’m trying to be better even about simple things like comments. Your comments on my blog always bring me such joy; why can’t I do that for others as well?

  • Jessie

    This is so true. Sometimes there is that annoying voice of negativity in the back of your mind. Your blog today really helped me and lifted my spirits. I am going to be thinking about this-and putting it into practice as well. Thank you! Jessie

  • Dawn

    Lovely words, so happy you share them :)

  • Fleurzty

    This is so true! I love this post! I first heard of this listening to John Maxwell. It is such a revolutionary concept, yet so true. Support others because there is plenty of room at the top!

  • Blessed

    I don’t battle this demon often, but when I do it’s brutal – this is a great post and a great point.

    When I was younger it was a voice that had a regular place at the table in my mind. Then someone I admired, who I *thought* really had things together got angry at me because all the chips fell into place and I was able to buy a new-to-me car. We all gathered at my house like we always did on the weekend and my mom surprised me with a cake and we celebrated like it was my birthday (long, long, complicated story… this is the postage stamp version.) In the middle of all that this person walked up to me, shook her finger in my face and screamed at me “you don’t have to rub it in our faces – some of us need new cars too” and then stomped out of my house, away from our gathering and I never was able to restore that friendship, even though I tried really hard.

    I was 21 at the time. Her anger at my success was something I’ve never forgotten. I still battle that voice on occasion – it’s only natural – but whenever the voice starts to pipe up I just relive the sorrow of the moment I lost a friend because of a used car and that puts an end to my jealousy and I can freely and honestly celebrate with my friends again.

  • Beth

    I sometimes feel that way, never quite finishing everthing on my to-do list or seeing a friend be more “successful” at something. Which is why it caught me off-guard one time to hear my sister in law make a comment about being secretly jealous about a certain accoplishment. It made me feel so embarrased. Now when I hear that inner voice, I dismiss it. And I make sure to compliment my sister in law on her accomplishments!Thanks for the insightful post!

  • Dayna

    AWESOME post. So inspiring and well written. You clearly know and understand the toxic feelings but chose to rise above and love and support your friends. Wow. There really is so much room- we can breathe. Thanks for “doing it” and inspiring and encouraging the rest of us :)

  • tiffany

    Yes, indeed! Those who truly give with all their hearts get a return on those gifts beyond their own understanding. Great reminder, Stephanie!

  • Courtney

    I needed this today, thanks.

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  • Dee

    So amazing. I’m a pretty open person so I’ll tell the truth…. the moment I noticed this post on your site I was reading your 100 things about me list and thinking to myself “self….you have got one heck of a long way to go!”. Your post brought tears to my eyes..and conviction to my heart.

    How often it is that people feel this way…as if the pie of success only has so many slices; and every slice given so someone else leaves us with less. How seldom it is that people actually admit to this.

    Thank you…. for courage to call a spade a spade, for offering grace and encouragement. I’m seeing things differently now. And I’m applauding all the stars in my life while I wait (patiently) for my turn to shine.

  • Lisa

    Everyone’s replies are so upbeat and appreciative. I, on the other hand, am suffering with personal equanimity, the lack of it. I have started to view other peoples success as validation to their right to live on this planet, and my failures as proof that I just don’t belong. Though I can celebrate friends and acquaintances successes with cards, gifts, phone calls, etc., I can’t seem to help use their successes as a bat to my own head. I have let the successes of others be the cruel step mother reminding me of my lack of being able to score a victory with any of my life-goals.

    So and so is married and has an affair and is forgiven by all and is happy. So and so has just started in his/her career and have already been promoted. So and so is going on a trip abroad – again – this time with a group of friends, but not me. I’m the friend that can’t afford to go. So and so just bought a new home. So and so has graduated and no longer has to attend classes and has been offered a job. I am appreciative of the words of wisdom that I found here and I will sooner than later contemplate on them, and it will do me some good, but right now you can imagine a three year old with arms crossed over chest, a most unhappy and grumpy face with lower lip pouting out so far it could serve as a diving board, because that’s how I feel right now.

    • Stephanie

      Thank you for your candor, Lisa. I sincerely hope that this coming year brings you the peace, joy, success, and adventure that you are seeking.

  • Crystal

    Thank you so much for this inspiring truth! It’s so hard to remember it on a daily basis with the media indirectly telling you that because you are not on a reality show you are insignificant. I’m so happy to have found someone online who sees things in such a positive way. Thank you again for your inspiring advice. Today, I really needed to read this!

  • Seth

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been going through a rough patch in my life as an actor – my last Broadway gig was two years ago and I’ve been watching my friends get incredible ensemble roles while I’ve been trying to further my career into recording. Ack. I needed to read this. Thank you.