Are you an overachiever - a tall Poppy?


Tarquinius Superbus, a king of ancient Rome demonstrated how to deal with potential enemies by cutting off the heads of the tallest poppies in his garden (Livy 1.54.6).


In modern times, a tall poppy is one who is conspicuously successful and whose success frequently attracts envious hostility.


Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.


Sociologist Max Weber in has suggested it is due to a zero-sum game scenario, which is a game theory (economics) concept that basically means the sum of a certain thing in a system equals zero. In this case, that thing would be success. If some people are successful, that means there are people who are not successful. People who are not successful feel the need to “cut down” tall Poppies, so to speak. By attacking the successful, subconsciously people think the effect will lower that person’s success and thereby increase their own chances of success.


Almost every single person who comes to the fore in any walk of life, runs the risk of ending up tainted or pilloried in the media for some failing or another, sometimes unfairly, but not always. A personal problem gone public, failure to come clean about a scam surrounding them, the crazed media frenzy surrounding the giants of our society stops at nothing to air dirty laundry. 


People in general tend to envy. When friends/colleagues get recognized and rewarded, we know they have worked hard, that they are smart people, but won't that still cause a tinge of envy? We genuinely are happy for them but won't resentment and more than a little bit of despair set in, wont we think at one point of time or other that,'I work hard too, I do good work too, but where is my reward?'


I was in a party the other day, everyone was whispering about Mr and Mrs. X, everyone was in 'awe' of them, the couple looked the part – they were always perfectly turned-out, with glitzy jewellery and even flashier cars. They were the 'ideal'  family, but  now the news was out that they're separated, there was an infusion of happiness amongst the partiers, when I rebuked one of the rejoicers, she told she wasn't being nasty but 'their" break-up' had a startling effect on her; their divorce made her feel better about herself. She unashamedly told she was happy to hear things weren’t so perfect for that couple after all!'


What the party friend had described is Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) –  a tendency to resent, disparage or feel negatively towards those who excel or stand out.


Envy is a choice. If you don't want to envy, just choose. Unless you're not in control of your emotions? Don't let emotion sway you, always let Reason be the judge! Avoid gloating on the "I", that you're trying to "do it all" by yourself. The ego is the barrier which prevents you from seeing the truth of yourself. It is the boundary wall which keeps you locked up inside the prison of your own mind. When you remove that separation, you will see the world as an extension of yourself. Instead of locking up yourself inside your limited individuality, you enter the vast expansive feeling of oneness with all that you see and experience. Stop and slap ego. Learn to work well with others. Find people to rely upon. Contact those successful individuals and ask for their guidance, their advice. Don't resent them, LEARN from them. Be there for them, and they'll be there for you.


When you work as hard, are as smart, jump through all the right hoops, and still don't succeed, it's hard not to feel envious of those who do. It's not that you want to be the top dog, you just want to be allowed to run the race. But envy is, in part, a recognition that the thing your friends have is worthwhile. You too desire what they desire, but you were disappointed. Desire+disappointment=envy;))


Will Smith's character in the film 'The pursuit of Happiness' says, “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something…You got a dream? You gotta protect it. If people can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”


For those of you who are already tall poppies or in the verge of becoming one' this article is very useful


When we realize the root cause of envy is often the different way people prioritize, our envious feelings will subside and dissolve altogether! The challenge is never to be better than others. It's always been to be better than yourself. Learn to befriend your judgmental inner critic. It has a lot to teach you about the parts of your life you’ve been neglecting or denying (and you may just find yourself becoming a little more forgiving in the process). We must turn envy, that negative emotion into a positive one. 


The tall poppy syndrome, especially as it pertains to speaking, is not proprietary to Australia. It is universal. Every society and each culture has sought to regulate speaking with bribes and intimidation. The antidote? Confidence.


Confidence is a choice to accept, own, and fully use our intrinsic, inborn right to fully express ourselves in whatever way we want, any time, any place, no matter what. We all have to learn to speak our truth from the depths of our being, heart to heart and eye to eye. We all have to transform diminished capacity into ferocious and fearless speaking and truth-telling. This is where and how we connect with our life-force, how we inspire ourselves to dream big dreams, to take on unimaginable projects, to bring forth fire. This is how we fulfill the promise of our life, how we share our true heart, and seed the world with soul-seeds of beauty!

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  •  Veena: 
    Thank you, Wey. Whenever I read about anyone being put down by paparazzi I often feel what do they get by airing the dirty laundry?
    0 points
  •  WeylonElliott: 
    Very good article: I wish some of the rich-hating communists, would read and apply your article.
    2 points
1 votes