Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Support, Don't Envy Your Fellow Entrepreneurs

Every day, the Internet brings me an endless stream of news about good things happening to other entrepreneurs and investors--product launches, VC financings, acquisitions.

I'm faced with a choice in how to react to this news.

A) "Dammit, I'm falling further behind!"

B) "It's wonderful how progress keeps opening up new possibilities!"

A lot of times, it's tempting to pick Reaction A. It's tough not to envy others' good fortune. But Reaction A embodies zero-sum thinking. The implicit assumption is that there is conservation of success--if someone else succeeds, it reduces your own chances.

Gore Vidal summed this up with his famous quote:

"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

This is a terrible way to think. Not only is it patently false (imagine if you had taken this attitude back in the Stone Age--"Screw that guy who invented fire!"), it's also bad for you. These extrinsic comparisons crowd out intrinsic motivations.

If you choose Reaction B instead, you'll be happier and more productive.

Rather than draining your motivation, the news you read will energize you and fill your mind with new possibilities. You'll see other entrepreneurs as role models and peers, rather than rivals.

It's up to us to collectively decide whether to be A) envious or B) supportive. I hope you choose B.


Anonymous said...

Love your outlook!

Margaret said...

Chris: Love it. What a great remind as we begin a new year. @MargaretMolloy

Mallamace said...

True. If you consider the Mark Z's of the world. This guy is a billionare at 26. Considering most of facebook idea was copied from another person, it doesn't take too long to become successful.