Every big success story has to come with a lie, even if it’s something as simple as jealousy

Q: I’m jealous of my friend’s success. Would telling her help? A: Sure, why not? You can tell her to stay focused on her own achievements and to let go of the importance of…

Every big success story has to come with a lie, even if it’s something as simple as jealousy

Q: I’m jealous of my friend’s success. Would telling her help?

A: Sure, why not?

You can tell her to stay focused on her own achievements and to let go of the importance of getting famous. She might laugh and say “Are you sure?” That’s fine. Take your cue from her. Why not let other people’s stardom and accomplishments run your life?

Have a similarly embarrassing story like I do, with the hope that it fuels the self-confidence that’s your solace after defeat. It may not, but if not, maybe you’ll find a friend who can. Better, I think, to have someone beside you (and sometime in your life) who can truly understand.

How do you tell a friend that’s not proud of what she’s achieved that this is OK and we can all be role models?

R. has a good suggestion:

First, tell them you’re really proud of them. You really respect what they’ve accomplished and think they are extraordinary. Tell them that it doesn’t matter if they aren’t always proud of what they’ve accomplished — as long as they are proud, that’s more important.

Then try to offer a caveat of yours. You may have known that you wanted to be an actress, but that was before you saw Dolly Parton’s children’s book, “Hello Daddy!”

If she thinks you’re merely being generous, or a little insincere, and there is no elaboration on what was said to her, she will take your statement as support for her not giving her art enough time to bloom. That is a shame. You can talk about how you’re amazed that after all that time, it took you a while to figure out what you wanted to do, and that she needed that extra push (she was 15, remember). Or you can say, “Dolly inspired me and made me want to pursue this dream.”

Or you can just observe. See the success of someone you know well but are at different points in their careers. For example, let me share a story: I was her theater coach at Mount Vernon High School when she won the PTA production of “Hello, Dolly!”

What impressed me was not that she played matchmaker, proposing she become a professional actress, but that she kept acting, continuing to be a model, completing two theater productions at several colleges (adding a serious improv to that repertoire) and getting a Master’s of Fine Arts (PsyD?).

Today she is the President of Open Gate, a non-profit organization that awards college scholarships.

Now I’m proud that Dolly proved to be a model (not that she actually was, but we can still say she is). What impressed me was that she kept auditioning, kept acting — and she also took challenges that she wasn’t sure would be worth all the research and work that went into the performance.

In response to your question, I’m sure that no one will believe you anyway. But I think you’ll find people will respond positively. One thing is certain, it’s hard to get any person to agree with you that they are powerful because they are famous. But you will be even more real with someone who has the humility and the honesty to say they weren’t just a celebrity before they were famous.

Turning a stinging disappointment into an opportunity for growth and support will seem even more extraordinary.

For more from Biz, see bizjournalism.org.

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