Support, Don’t Envy Your Fellow Entrepreneurs

Every day, the Internet brings me an endless stream of news about good things happening to other entrepreneurs and investors–product launches, VC financings, acquisitions.

I’m faced with a choice in how to react to this news.

A) “Dammit, I’m falling further behind!”

B) “It’s wonderful how progress keeps opening up new possibilities!”

A lot of times, it’s tempting to pick Reaction A. It’s tough not to envy others’ good fortune. But Reaction A embodies zero-sum thinking. The implicit assumption is that there is conservation of success–if someone else succeeds, it reduces your own chances.

Gore Vidal summed this up with his famous quote:

“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

This is a terrible way to think. Not only is it patently false (imagine if you had taken this attitude back in the Stone Age–“Screw that guy who invented fire!”), it’s also bad for you. These extrinsic comparisons crowd out intrinsic motivations.

If you choose Reaction B instead, you’ll be happier and more productive.

Rather than draining your motivation, the news you read will energize you and fill your mind with new possibilities. You’ll see other entrepreneurs as role models and peers, rather than rivals.

It’s up to us to collectively decide whether to be A) envious or B) supportive. I hope you choose B.

4 thoughts on “Support, Don’t Envy Your Fellow Entrepreneurs

  1. Anonymous

    Love your outlook!

  2. Chris: Love it. What a great remind as we begin a new year. @MargaretMolloy

  3. True. If you consider the Mark Z's of the world. This guy is a billionare at 26. Considering most of facebook idea was copied from another person, it doesn't take too long to become successful.

  4. Christina

    Great post! I can definitely relate. The fear of someone else doing what you are doing and doing it better/faster is something I have experienced. I have heard so many times: "Oh I know a lot of people that are doing exactly what you are doing". Yet there is never any proof and for years no one has done it. So, I am wondering if some people are just trying to scare you and "put you down", because they actually feel envious. Anyone else experienced this?

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