Wolves don’t lose sleep over the opinion of Sheep


“In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York! “ — Jules Verne

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Tarquinius Superbus, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema — 1867

In his classic work ‘Politics’,Aristotle tells the story of the 7th century BC tyrant named Thrasybulus. Thrasybulus asked his fellow oppressor Periander of Corinth how he should govern his people. He received the advice as not in words, but in the following way. Periander lopped off the heads of poppies, which were growing nearby. Thrasybulus understood this to mean “that it was necessary to make away with the eminent citizens”.

This is (one of) the origins of Tall Poppy Syndrome. Tall Poppy Syndrome refers to the mindset where people who achieve more than most, those who put their head above the parapet are resented, criticised and cut down. Essentially, it refers to the resentment or envy of success of others or peers, also known as begrudgery.

“If people don’t either love or hate your work, you just haven’t done all that much.” — Tinker Hatfield

We cannot be all things to all men. Beyond that, no matter what we do in life we will never please everyone. Thankfully there is enough diversity of thought in the world to allow for difference of opinion, which in turn leads to different tastes.

The reality is that first we have to do something, create something, ship something, write something, achieve something, think something. If we don’t do something, we won’t even be at the table to be criticised positively or otherwise.

Thanks to the web, everyone can voice their opinion. The web does not discriminate (although algorithms can weight towards positivity), the web allows for trolls, those who like to cast negative energy on every situation, those who want to cut down tall poppies.

When we are really honest with ourselves we have all felt various degrees of envy at some stage in our lives, we have all been guilty of Schadenfreude (taking joy in other’s misfortune). This does not feel right, because it is not right, we must all listen to our internal GPS which tells us so.

When we truly don’t care what people think of us we experience an amazing freedom. This goes beyond trolls leaving negative comments or those who smile to your face, but talk behind your back. It is a necessary to stick to who you are as an individual, as a collective or as a brand. Many publications for example get lured by the appeal of page views or clicks on an article while they are always better to have the right, loyal audience rather than a mass, flippant one.

“You have to remember something: Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

As super high achiever Arnold Schwarzenegger never measured his personal standards against the standards of others, he set his own higher ones. Likewise, none of us should measure against the opinions of others to measure our own beliefs, desires, actions or standards. When Schwarzenegger said in an interview at the end of the his weight lifting career that he would be a top Hollywood actor almost everyone laughed at him. When he said he would move into politics everyone laughed at him.

As a leader in life, you will be misunderstood, you will be lonely, people will try to drag you down, people will try to undermine you. Why? You are making them feel uncomfortable, everyone has the ability to achieve, those who do nothing want to hinder those who do something.

Without discipline, positive habits, persistence, belief and hard work nothing happens, when you achieve, others wonder why they do not. The easiest thing for them to do is cut you down.

Remember that anyone who tries to bring you down is already beneath you. It is the job of leaders to lift others up and never keep them down.

Finally, consider the following motivational Chinese proverb:

“Those that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it” — Chinese Proverb

On this week’s innovation show we are joined by Ash Maurya, CEO of LeanStack, creator of #LeanCanvas and author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean.

Damien Browne, Founder, CEO of Standard Access tells us about his Startup, which solves the problem of keyless entry for everyone from Air BnB to estate agents.

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