When I was in college I was in a Christian rock band with a lot of potential but a lot to learn. We were as green as the cheese in my dorm room mini fridge.
Surprisingly, in our small town of Temple, Texas, there was a fairly vibrant live music scene, dominated by a couple bands in particular (ours was not one). One of these bands was a fierce little outfit called Passerby, and they were just flat out good.
Well, sure enough, some time during my sophomore year of college, Passerby, who later changed their name to Flyleaf, signed a record deal with Octane Records (if memory serves me). I was so jealous it HURT. I’m not joking when I say that I cried privately.
I wanted this thing so badly, and they had it! I was crushed–I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t happening to me. (I can tell you now, no joke, they were way better.)
This reaction was all wrong.
People who achieve great things in their lives operate from what is called an “abundance mindset.” I, however, was operating out of the “scarcity mindset.” The abundance mindset says that there will be enough. There will be enough money, there will be enough opportunity, there will be enough record deals.
The scarcity mindset was telling me that there were a limited number of record deals out there, and that they just took one that could have been mine. Instead of experiencing joy, even encouragement, that peers of mine had achieved this incredible goal, my vision was clouded by selfish fear that they had taken what I needed, and that there would not be enough.
I could have rejoiced with friends. Instead, I scowled bitterly at enemies.
It was foolishness, on my part. I was anti-success. I saw anyone who was thriving, who was doing anything that I perceived to be beyond what I was doing, through jealous eyes. I saw them as the enemy.
Let me tell you about the abundance mindset, which I have since adopted. When, at times, I sense this short-sighted jealousy beginning to creep in, I do this mental exercise:
I place myself in the other person’s shoes. I imagine the work they have put in, the nights they laid awake, racking their brain about how to push themselves further. The pain and uncertainty they’ve endured. How badly they wanted it. How long they worked at it. I realize that they at one point sat where I now sit.
Then I imagine the joy they must be experiencing, seeing their work come to fruition. And I force myself to think, “Good for them. That’s fantastic. I’m so happy that they’re getting to experience that.” And I mean it.
The abundance mindset is freeing. Jealousy is a prison. It cuts me off from potential blessings, from what I can learn from people, and it belittles that which I have accomplished. It dismisses the opportunities that are in front of me now. If I want greater opportunities to present themselves, I must first be a good steward of what is currently in front of me.
Have the personal fortitude to rejoice in others’ successes. Your success and their success are not mutually exclusive.
Don’t live in fear. Live in the abundance mindset. There will be great opportunity. There will be enough.
Here’s your challenge: think of someone who has accomplished something similar to what you’d like to accomplish, and take yourself through the thought process of visualizing and appreciating their hard work. Find happiness for them, and realize that their success in no way subtracts from your own.