It’s about respect, not jealousy.
“There goes Jeff Bezos,” a man said.
Comedian Kevin Hart was in a room with well-known and successful business owners and individuals.
Then, Jeff Bezos walked in.
Instantly, Kevin said to his friend, “I’m going to go say what’s up to him. I would love to pick his brain. That’s an interesting individual.”
His friend said, “Don’t do that! Why do you want to do that? Don’t look like the dude that’s thirsty.”
“Just chill. Just relax,” the friend repeated.
What do you do when you meet someone more successful than you?
Do you relax? Do you tighten up?
Kevin Hart had to choose how he would react when he was in the presence of someone massively more successful than him.
Listening to Kevin Hart describe his reaction reminded me of my own choice when I ran into someone I had not seen in a few years.
He was significantly younger than me. Yet he had achieved a level of success that I am striving for. A few years ago when we last spoke, we were pretty even in our results — similar homes, cars, and lifestyle. But he had passed me.
A flurry of emotions started to simmer. What do I say to this guy? How do I react?
I thought through each of my options. Some were not healthy. Others were much better. I thought of five ways to react.
It’s easy to feel angry when you see someone else achieve what you’ve been trying to accomplish. That anger can also become jealousy.
I once heard that being jealous of someone else’s success is like you drinking poison and then expecting someone else to get sick.
Even if I did get angry, it wouldn’t help me become the person I wanted to be.
Criticism can be so easy. It can sabotage another person’s victory. You see a slight fault and then you talk about it constantly. You dismiss the amount of work someone else did. You make unflattering comments when the person isn’t there.
I once heard someone say that he wouldn’t say anything about someone that he wouldn’t say in that person’s presence. He held the line on speaking ill of others because he respected all people.
If I let someone else’s success turn me into a saboteur, what would someone else’s failure turn me into?
Encouragement is a gift we can give that costs us nothing. Even the most talented, hardest-working people need a boost sometimes — probably more than we think.
I once heard a quote attributed to Goethe: “Instruction does much, encouragement everything.” One true compliment can fuel someone for an entire lifetime.
If my friend is doing something right, then I have a duty to recognize him for it.
4. Seek Advice
It’s hard to ask for advice from someone you view as your equal. It can be a humbling experience. Often, though, there is something that we don’t know that holds us back — we need to ask for help.
Pride can make us blind to the wisdom of others. We must ditch the pride and have the freedom and confidence to ask for help when we need it.
If my friend has achieved a goal faster than I have, doesn’t it make sense to ask him for advice?
Common goals can sometimes unify people rather than divide them. Competition has limits that cooperation can overcome.
Dwight Eisenhower said, “Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg.”
If my friend has the same goal as I do, maybe we could work together? I could ask him to collaborate. Joining together would strengthen our friendship and help us both grow faster.
The Only Right Answer Is Respect
No matter which path I choose, Kevin Hart’s reaction to meeting Jeff Bezos provides the golden rule: the only right way to treat someone who is more successful than you is with respect.
Kevin Hart’s friend didn’t want Kevin to walk up to Jeff Bezos. His friend wanted Kevin to relax and “chill out.” But that wasn’t Kevin’s answer. Doing nothing was not an option.
Kevin Hart walked up to Jeff Bezos and made a choice. He made the choice to show respect.
I’ll paraphrase the exchange, but Kevin and his wife introduced themselves to Jeff Bezos.
“Hi, Jeff. I’m Kevin. This is my wife. Hey man, I admire you. I don’t know anything about your world in depth, but I admire you. I admire you for being a guy that created and accomplished. That is a phenomenon. I want to shake your hand. I would love to talk one day.”
Jeff responded, “Hi, Kevin. I’m quite sure we’ll cross paths one day.”
Kevin ended with “If we do or don’t, I just want to tell you I admire you.”
That was it — brief, but full of respect. Kevin Hart gave enough respect to Jeff Bezos so that if the two ever spoke again, Jeff Bezos would remember Kevin Hart.
When I bumped into my friend not long afterwards, I had five options.
- Express anger
- Sabotage his success
- Encourage him
- Ask him for advice
- Ask him to collaborate
I told him I was proud of him. I asked him for advice. I gave him the respect that was due. And at some point, we might cooperate.
I admire him, and I’m proud of my reaction to his success.
Thanks to Jordan Gross.