There is a heavy price to success.
I’m not talking about the hours of hard work, the hustling, the endless tweaking and revising, the sleepless nights of research, the intense rejection. Those are high costs, to be sure, and many are willing to endure them just to taste the joy of finally getting ahead in a field about which they dream every night.
What most people are unprepared for is the backlash of antagonism, acrimony and reputation-crushing activity that will soon follow after a little success is achieved.
One of my antique dealer friends is in a panic week. She called me yesterday worried about a few clients who were unable to purchase some items held in reserve for other clients. These two clients took it upon themselves to systematically harm part of her business by talking her down to other dealers in an attempt to weaken her credibility, going to great lengths over weeks to do so. This was over an item that cost only $40.
My friend is on the cusp of enormous success. She is regarded as one of the leads of her field, has forged hundreds of valuable connections and has tirelessly worked to make her business a success, refusing to take a paycheck many months out of the year in order to keep her business afloat and her clients happy. It is safe to say that she will shortly break through to be one of the biggest names in her field nationwide.
Others have noticed this success and have begun to grumble.
As a child, my mother was a local celebrity, having worked hard to earn the title as the top female bodybuilder in our state. Her hard work was truly heroic. She was on national television many times. She achieved this enormous success while raising three girls on her own. Yet all I heard from others was grumble, grumble, grumble.
I just finished a fabulous book called #GIRLBOSS. In the book, Sophia Amoruso details her rise from humble vintage clothing seller on eBay to CEO of Nasty Gal, an online clothing company that brings in millions of dollars per year. During her incredibly successful time on eBay, Sophia began to experience backlash. She had worked tirelessly to bring in clients from MySpace, spending hours every day friending and interacting with potential customers. On the eBay message boards, she was lambasted, lampooned and accused of shill bidding. Competitors turned her into eBay several times for various things in order to get her shut down. Eventually, they were successful. Ebay suspended her account for advertising her new website in the feedback section.
How did Sophia react? She ignored the grumblers. She was far too busy sourcing new product, arranging for models, taking pictures and listing to engage in the grumbling. She even turned her suspension from eBay into an opportunity to expand her business to what it is now, one of the greatest clothing websites out there.
Grumblers are simply people who don’t have what it takes to be successful. They lack willpower. They lack smarts. They feel others who have worked their way up are somehow dishonest and it’s their job to bring them to court. Grumblers feel they have been cheated. They want blood.
There is always a moral aspect to grumbling. My mother, the bodybuilder, was looked down on by our puritanical Mormon community as being freakish and overtly sexual. Sophia was accused of shill bidding. My friend was accused of doing back alley deals. If you are in business, the accusations will be of a legal nature. If you are artistic, the accusations will include some cultural sin such as racism or sexism. If you excel at sports you will be accused of doping. If you are lucky in love you will be accused of manipulation or marrying for money.
If you are a grumbler, recognize it and stop. You are not made better by bringing others down.
If you are dealing with a grumbler, ignore them. One fact on your side is that these people do not have the power to take you down because they have not worked for the power and will not work for it. Their single power in life is to make an annoying noise.
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