Monday, September 12, 2016

How we react to other's success story

Someone mentioned his success story. You immediately start to think of what are the circumstances that makes him different from you. Maybe he comes from a rich background. Maybe he don't have NS so he starts working earlier by 2 years. Maybe his parents help him pay the downpayment of his property and his car. Maybe he is single so he don't have to pay as much as a married couple with child. I'm sure you have thought of this, and so do I.

The issue about such thinking is that you start to form a hundred and one reason why you cannot emulate the success story. You start thinking that he is different from you and since you don't have the advantages that he had, you cannot have the success that he is having too. I find such thinking highly toxic and even as I'm still struggling to get over such jealous thinking, sometimes it'll start to creep onto you insidiously. 

I think it's part and parcel of being a human. We have our ego and a damaged ego is very hard to swallow. But it's important to turn such discomfort into a strength and motivation to succeed. You already have a role model who had been there and done that, so your learning curve is going to be reduced. If anything, you have a stronger chance of reaching the same success level in a much shorter time. I believe, self delusional or otherwise, that the purpose of sharing success story is more motivational than boasting. We just need to keep an open mind to learn and not close it off and say he is different from me, and I don't have this or that, hence I can't do it. It's important to accept the discomfort arising from the discrepancies and start closing the gap right now.

It seems like my whole life is trying to prove others are wrong:

1. When I'm in JC, there's this teacher who keeps telling me I should drop Further maths. I didn't and I succeeded in getting an A.

2. When I'm in university, my friends and family told me I can't get 1st class. I didn't believe it and I took extra modules to chalk up the score necessary to get it.

3. When I'm working, friends and family told me I can't work as a self employed private tutor. I won't be able to survive. But I did and I continue to do so.

4. When I'm saving 50k a yr after I woke up from my 'financial slumber', there are folks who told me when I get married and start having to pay for my own property, I won't be able to make it. Well, I'm married and I save even more now. 

Iron-teeth. I get highly motivated to reach my goals in order to prove a point. That's who I am. The quality of my motivation changes from being the angry, vengeful, the in-your-face kind of motivation when I'm younger, to a quiet strength where action speaks louder than words when I'm older. Both are pillars of strength when trying to traverse through the obstacles and road blocks in my path, but the second one is one that springs from self confidence. Not angry anymore, just self assured. I think age tends to do that to you. 

You no longer have to prove your 'worth' to anybody.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


It's interesting to find that despite being opposite sides of the academic spectrum, you also got naysayers trying to cast their venom on you ;)

And I thought it only applies to those of us who can't or don't like to study...

Yup, "I'll show them" was useful during my early days in the corporate world. First by getting into the same jobs usually held by graduates, and then having graduates reporting to me...

Alas, as with all things, that novelty wore off :(

With maturity, I soon discovered the joys of self actualisation and ikigai.

There is only I am happy, or not.

There is no such silliness as I want to be "happier" than the next person ;)

Ego becomes smaller.

Less about others; more introspection.

la papillion said...


We're all on a relative scale. For those who can study, there are those that can study better haha, and it just happens that when I'm in JC, I'm not one of the more studious one. Now that you mention it, I think it's quite interesting too. Never really thought about it this way.

You are right. The novelty wears off is exactly how I felt. Soon, there is nothing to prove. I nod and smile and just do it. There's nothing much to convince or persuade. The challenge is with myself, and no longer with others.

Jimmy L said...

sad to say that many people are mentally disabled having mind delimiters, even though they are not physically disabled

what is the gaps that prevent one from succeeding? why other people can do it and i cant?

la papillion said...

Hi Jimmy,

You asked the two most important questions in the art science of motivation. I don't know the answers...if I know, I huat already HAHA

I've had the fortune to see how students flip them minds and went from below average to something they never even dream of. Unfortunately, not everyone managed to do it, so that's why after 13 yrs doing what I'm doing, I'm still trying to tweak here and there to find that magic formula to motivate and awaken people. It's not about the grades anymore. It's a life skill that allows them to overcome adversity and let them do whatever they dream about.

Anonymous said...

Over time, with age, pple will see less need to compete with others. So instead of "showing off" their wealth, these pple tend to be v low profile n quiet. In a way, it s the quiet confidence that some pple called self assurance.

Kate said...

Most people are conformist. By conforming, I am not talking about conforming to your wants or needs, but to how generally society perceives success.

You are only jealous because your neighbour drives a bigger car than you.

You are jealous because your colleague got promoted but not you.

You are jealous because your friend got a higher starting pay than you.

You are jealous because your classmate has better results than you.

But seldom do we...

Feel jealous because your friend is happily married and settled down with 2 kids.

Feel jealous because your friend is happy despite owning nothing much.

Feel jealous because your friend is taking a gap year off school to work and travel before starting university

What this shows is that a lot of the jealousy is intricately tied to better grades, better jobs, bigger cars, bigger pay checks - the material posession in life. And seldom do we feel jealous of others, who might be leading a happier and more fulfilling life, despite not having much.

You want wealth and the perceived success tied to it. Hence, you get jealous when others have them and you do not.

Not that this is wrong.

But ask yourself, is this what you really want in life?

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

I agree. I think that's the stage that I'm at now. I'm much more self assured as I mature and age, and there's really nothing to prove to people anymore.

la papillion said...

Hi Kate,

You've said it very well. Nothing further to add!