I have had a really good run of luck in my life. I am not denying it. It started by being born as a white male in one of the wealthiest countries in the planet. Growing up, I had the fortune of a sharp mind that allowed me to get good grades in school, get accepted to a top university, and create a career based on my own intentions.

Yet with as much luck that has come my way, there has been a tremendous amount of effort as well. It’s not the first or last time I will make a surfing analogy, but it’s like a wave. It can be the cleanest, most perfect and inviting wave that you have ever seen. However unless you are in the right spot and put in the effort to paddle (usually with everything you’ve got), the wave will do one of two things: come crashing down on top of you or pass underneath you like you didn’t even matter.

The second part of the equation often gets lost when I tell people what I do for work. I’m not going to lie; it’s really fun. I get to travel, do the activities I love, and share my voice with the world. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity and do my best to put in a solid effort along every step of the journey.

There have been times (not always, but enough to sit down and blog about it) when chitchatting meanders to discussing one’s career and I talk about what I just said. I usually get a polite response, but I’ve noticed a slight tendency for people to throw in a passive-aggressive comment disguised as a joke. “I hate you” is a common one.  “That must be nice” is another. Then they laugh it off, but I have noticed it enough to see a pattern where I would like to find some research on the topic. It seems as though there is a response with the limbic system that is initiated with Jealousy.

I do not exclude myself from this. In fact, I wasted a lot of time being jealous of other people that has undoubtedly stunted my career growth. I would see peers around me find great success, and instead of feeling impressed or happy for them, I pointed out the excuses that differentiated us.

“He has rich parents”

“She got to where she was because she’s a hot chick”

And so on.

It wasn’t until I found my own success and saw the tables turned that I really noticed the pattern. But jealousy is a reaction to a situation where someone wants what you have. When they see that in someone else, they direct their own personal disappointment to the other person as a way to deflect the guilt associated with that sense of lack.

But what if we turned the jealousy into a good thing? Maybe that sense can be redirected into something positive? Not only is that possible, but I believe it is essential to success.

It takes a whole sense of personal awareness to do so, but once you notice when and where the feelings of jealousy come in you begin the path of evolving.

How to do it

Think of the last time you were jealous of someone’s success. What was it that you were jealous about? Was it the person’s circumstances or their effort? Usually (for me, at least) it is the situation that someone is in that fuels the jealousy, but nothing to do with the process.

The process is where you can learn and emulate from that person instead of seeing them as having something you want/need. Instead of condemning them (even jokingly), you could ask how they got to that point. You can ask about the struggles they faced along the way. Usually most people are more than happy to talk about themselves. Perhaps there is some way they can learn from you. The only way you will find out, is by being genuinely interested on how they got to that point.

It’s a skill like anything else that needs to be practiced and refined, but it works. And the more I channel those jealous feelings into a personal query on why I’m feeling that way, I begin to learn more about myself and how I can change to achieve whatever it is that I want that the person in question has.

It’s a cool feeling though when you start to notice it, especially when you feel a sense of pride for the other person seeing them succeed.