“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of the world is convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre middle-ground. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming. It is easier to raise $10,000,000 than it is $1,000,000. It is easier to pick up the one perfect 10 in the bar than the five 8s. If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”
- Tim Ferriss
Everyone glorifies success, but no one ever tells you about the downside that can crush you.
We see it everywhere, and I’m one of the worst offenders – feverishly pursue something you care about and “get successful” no matter what it takes.
It all seems like unicorns and rainbows – once you get “there” life is easy. With influence, you have opportunities. With money, you have choice. With time, you can do whatever the hell you want.
The truth is that most people glorify only the good parts of success because they aren’t successful yet – and thus don’t realize the dark nature.
Here’s what they didn’t tell you.
Why Everyone Hates You When You’re At The Top
There’s a little known fact that the more successful you become – happier, healthier, fitter, more content – the more the average person begins to hate you.
Think about. Let’s take a dramatic example. A guy rolls up in a smokin’ hot red ferrari to the restaurant you’re having dinner at.
99% of people, after looking at the car, will assume hundreds of things.
Like MJ Demarco talks about in his book The Millionaire Fastlane, once he finally got an ultra-sports car, people assumed all kinds of things about him:
“He must have a tiny dick.”
“He must be a real asshole.”
“He must be compensating for the fact that the rest of his life is total shit.”
Think about it.
When was the last time we saw someone in a sports car, and didn’t assume anything about them, and just observed?
When you say “Wow, cool car huh?” to the average person, all the judgments crop up. “He must have rich parents. He must have inherited it. He must be a douche.” Blah blah blah. The mind goes wild.
The same is true of health.
One of my close friends went from weighing 300+ pounds, to now looking like a fitness model and having a six pack. And he described one of the most hurtful moments of his life like this:
“You know, at first, everyone was like ‘that’s amazing dude, keep going you’re looking good.’ That’s when they still see you’re fat. You aren’t competition, you’re no one special yet. When you lose a few pounds they encourage you. But then I started getting really fit, I lost something like 80 pounds, and was half the size practically. Then the comments changed. Friends and even family would be like, “Whoa, you’re starting to look a bit sickly Sol, you need to gain some weight.” But I was still 230 pounds – a big guy – so I couldn’t understand why they were discouraging me. This is what I wanted my entire life, so why were they saying stuff like that?”
He first-hand observed how mediocrity HATES excellence.
The raw truth is that the average person will HATE YOU for being special. For being amazing. For not watching TV and using your time wisely. For taking your limited time and investing it into a project that adds something amazing to the world.
So why does this happen?
#1 It reminds them that they caved to fear, uncertainty, pressure, etc. and they gave up.
Think about running into an old college friend.
You’re at a 5 or 10 year reunion, and the dropout friend of yours is now running his own business that he LOVES, helping take people around the world on adventure trips.
And let’s say for the sake of argument you’re kinda stuck in the grind. You were told to take the classic path of get a good job, pay your bills, and then get married.
Suddenly you’re struck with envy, “WTF did he do right that I did wrong? He gets to travel all the time and wake up to something he enjoys, and I don’t.”
And usually, rather than being inspired, we feel resentful. We make excuses. It strikes us at the core – because we realize the WE have a dream too. We wanted to go take that year abroad to go to Spain, or we wanted to volunteer in Costa Rica. But we didn’t, because we got talked out of it or we were too “realistic” about life.
So rather than being inspired, we hate that person. We make excuses, “Well he could do that because XYZ…” and “he doesn’t have responsibilities like I do…” and all kinds of justifications.
But it still bothers us. Deep down we’re pissed off, and mostly pissed off at ourselves. “What happened to that dream I used to have? Why did I give up on it?”
Sometimes when you become successful, hordes of friends, family, and peers begin to not only rationalize their own failure, but try to take away your success. “You had all these resources I didn’t…” they say. But what they’re really doing is telling THEMSELVES a story to feel better.
#2 It reminds them that yeah, they still have a dream, but they aren’t hustling to make it happen.
Sometimes, people realize that they DO have a problem, but they’ve been lapsing on their progress.
Think about health.
Other people might at first support you, but once you start looking INCREDIBLE they envy you, hate you, and will try to steal your success.
“He’s a meat head.”
“She lives in the gym and wears lululemon everywhere.”
“He doesn’t have any other hobbies.”
“She only cares about her appearance.”
You’ve finally lost those 20 pounds and now you’re getting toned and fit and look awesome.
You’re starting to get really comfortable taking your shirt off at the beach, and you begin getting attention for the first time in a very long time.
And suddenly a few of your friends who have been drinking a bit too much beer and partying too much start chiming in, “Don’t you have a life? I feel like fitness is all you do now.”
It’s not even true – since you’re only at the gym a few times a week and you eat healthy otherwise – but you can feel their judgment, and their envy.
The point is that it’s not the truth that matters – it’s the story that people tell themselves (that we tell ourselves) to rationalize inadequacy and mediocrity.
#3 It reminds people that living the average life usually ISN’T fulfilling, it address the dissatisfaction and reminds them about how little they’re doing to combat it.
The highest level here is that it often indicates that the way we’re living – not at all deliberately – flat out produces unhappiness and leaves dreams unfulfilled.
This is the highest level of dissatisfaction and hurt. It kinda makes us think, “Well, shit. Why did I settle? You’re telling me that COULD be my life too?”
It speaks to the dissatisfaction at the core of most people – unwilling, afraid, or unclear about the life they want.
The raw truth is that we’ve all been there – usually health wise or financially- where we go “Shit. This looks awful. How’d it get this bad?” But the DIFFERENCE between the successful person and the average one is that the successful person does what the average person is not willing to do.
They both see the problem and feel the pain.
But only one takes action. Day after day. Month after month. YEAR after year, even when progress stalls or is slow.
So what’s the solution?
Seriously. That’s the solution.
In all seriousness, inspire people if you can. Show them how it might be possible. Show them hope, show them the roadmap if you can. But if they aren’t willing to take action? Be compassionate if you can, but otherwise move on.
It’s like that Marianne Williamson quote – we don’t fear our darkness, we fear our light. We fear our greatness.
This is me just giving you the heads up – when you see the haters coming, even if they’re your close friends, it’s time to keep moving.
People will hate you no matter what you do, so why not have them hate you for being great?
Why not have them hate you for living the fucking coolest life imaginable?
Why not have them hate you for being really goddamn happy?
And why not have them hate you for living a life that’s so inspiring that people can’t help but talk about it?
Thoughts on this? Tell me below.