Professional Jealousy

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One of the more unpleasant smells in this world is professional jealousy. The symptoms are always so obvious, yet the person emitting the odour is generally completely unaware of his or her attitude and usually even justifies it by blaming the person of whom they are jealous. This is a very common problem in all walks of life. However, I think it is especially unpleasant to find it in fields involving the arts, where sensitivity, empathy, self-awareness and even love should prevail.

I have been on the receiving end of this phenomenon many times in my life (as, no doubt, many of us have) and have done a lot of thinking about it. I can see how such an attitude can be fostered in the formative years of childhood. For example, if a parent (even worse if both) favours one child over another so that the unfavoured one continually sees his or her sibling getting all the praise and glory, this can set up a seething rivalry and jealousy at the other’s achievements which remains in adulthood if there is no resolution. Similarly, if a teacher has favourites in class (teacher’s “pets”) and continually puts down others, this too can set up a rivalry and jealousy which continues into adulthood if not nipped in the bud. Such environments are the nurseries in which professionally jealous adults are grown.

Frankly, even though I have in the past been professionally harmed by those with this attitude (for they love to destroy the reputations of those they despise), I have always felt acute compassion for them. It is so obviously an unresolved childish thing which some self-awareness could straighten out. I once tried to help a professionally-jealous person become aware of what they were doing and the aggression which they heaped on me was like a tornado! There is so much anger left over from their past experiences that they have to convince themselves that it is you who is in the wrong. It does need unravelling though, as it causes untold problems in working environments. I have spoken to many who say that they cannot imagine working in a place where there is no such jealousy; and that those who rise to the top are likely to be those who have exercised that jealousy the most. I am inclined to agree. Most of those in management positions today are those who least deserve it. Maybe it’s always been like that.

Personally, I rejoice in the genius and accomplishments of others. The more accomplished they are, the more I rejoice! I revel in others’ excellence and willingly sit at their feet to learn more. Sometimes I even weep with joy to see someone do something well. Most people are far better at most things than I will ever be. May they thrive and prosper!

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