Admiration or Jealousy?

Photo of kid in Superman costome
Photo copyright ©1970 John R Crone. All rights reserved.

Who are your heroes?

As a kid, my favorite superhero was Superman. I loved the original TV show starring George Reeves. I also loved the Batman series with Adam West. But, for pure hero worship, it was always Superman.

It’s good to have heroes. It’s good to have people we respect and admire, people who inspire us to be better than we are.

Who do you look up to with honor and respect? That’s admiration.

Who do you look at and think, “Why do they get to be there? I could do that. That should be me.” That’s jealousy.

It is easy for these two aspects to cross over, for one to become the other.

I think a key difference is that when we admire someone, we recognize the work they put in to achieve their place. We recognize that we are not there (yet) because we have not (yet) applied the same amount of effort.

Or, as in the case of my love of Superman, we simply admire them for who they are with the full realization we’ll never be that awesome, no matter how cool we look in a cape and boots.

When we are jealous of someone’s accomplishments, what we are really doing is seeking shortcuts and excuses. We think they got there by some stroke of luck. We think they got something we deserved.

Admiration is a good thing. It can drive us to work harder, or differently.

Jealousy is a killer. It causes us to feel hopeless. It justifies endless hours on the couch watching “reality” shows. It justifies eating that big bowl of ice cream and caramel corn in an attempt to numb our fears and self doubts. It keeps us from getting the exercise that would make us feel a whole lot better than cramming pointless calories into our mouths. It keeps us from expending that little bit more effort toward achieving our goal.

Admiration gives us energy. Jealousy sucks the energy out of us.

Jealousy is a zero sum approach to life; a sense that there is only so much to go around and we’re not getting our fair share.

Admiration embraces a life of abundance. It’s the Doritos approach: “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.

Identify your heroes. Admire the hard work and effort they put in to get what they have earned. Use that as motivation to get what you desire.

Beware allowing that admiration to become jealousy. When the work gets hard, it’s not time to throw up our hands and declare it can’t be done. No. It’s time to double down. Do one more push up. Write one more line of code. Write one more paragraph in your book. Make one more phone call to a prospective client. You’ve come this far. Keep going.

Be worthy of admiration.