Tall Poppy Syndrome

Wherever success is to be seen, there is envy soon to follow. We all know this. People who achieve things invariably accumulate haters. They become the tall poppy.

Enter tall poppy syndrome.

This is, essentially, when others try to hold back, sabotage, criticize, malign, or derail the successful person — cutting down the tall poppy. The tallest poppy is usually the biggest crap magnet out there. Take a look at some of these people:

  • Taylor Swift
  • Nickelback
  • Justin Bieber
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Adam Sandler

Insecurity drives this behavior, as well as envy. People look at those on top and can’t help but think, “this dude doesn’t belong there.” A lot of times people hate on them for having no talent (I’ve often wondered about the Kardashians myself). So they justify it by saying these people don’t deserve to have such a high level of success. That there are people more deserving.

But it’s all bs. Truth is, there will always be someone more deserving. And it’s just an excuse for people to avoid having to rise up themselves. We crap on Justin Bieber and we justify it, but if it wasn’t Biebs in the crosshairs, it would be somebody else. We would crap on the next guy, too.

Be the tall poppy.

If you are the tall poppy, the best thing to do is keep moving forward. Being the one that stands out doesn’t necessarily mean worldwide success. It can be any success. You might stand out at work, for example. You might stand out from your siblings, friends, in your community. Notice that this applies on any level. People will criticize you and you will attract saboteurs. So be on your guard. If these people are your friends, encourage them. Try to motivate them. Sometimes you can be a positive influence. If that doesn’t work and they still try to drag you down, they aren’t worth having as friends. Cull them.

Do not be the hater.

Be aware of when you are tearing down others. It might not seem like your words carry much weight when you’re talking about a celebrity, but adding your one snowflake online can quickly add up to an avalanche. Even more so, be aware of when you’re doing it on the local level. Know that it’s envy and insecurity behind it. The first thing is to stop doing it, but if you want to stop doing it forever, you need to raise your self-esteem. Confident, strong people don’t need to tear others down. Start building people up. Even those you are secretly jealous of. Congratulate them. Encourage them, encourage everyone.

Tearing others down is just a response to our own discomfort. It is easier to bring someone down than it is to lift ourselves up to their level. Resist the urge to do this. Work on yourself. Don’t cut down the tall poppy in the field. Grow taller yourself.

Crabs in a bucket.

There is one more “syndrome” I would like to point out here. It’s called crab mentality, and it basically means, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” It comes from the idea that if you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, what happens is some of them will try to climb out. But before they can escape, the others will drag them back down into the bucket.

Those who don’t want to put in the effort to succeed will try to drag you down so you don’t make them look bad. They want what you’re doing the work to get, but they don’t want to do the reps. So rather than seeing you get it, they would impede you. Does that sound like someone you want to be around?

Like I said earlier, if these people aren’t able to be motivated, cull them. Surround yourself with others who are trying to succeed. Be the tall poppy, the crab that gets away.

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