July 27, 2009

What They Say About Winners

lance-armstrong

Congratulations to the great Lance Armstrong on his third-place victory in Paris yesterday.

I’m aware that third place is not a real victory. Lance knows this too, and said so himself in the post-race interviews. However, when you’ve been out of the tour for four years, you broke your collarbone a few months ago, and you’re more than a decade older than the teammate who ended up winning, I think that third place is pretty good.

Lance is still a winner in my book. He’s already planning to come back next year, and I’m pretty sure he won’t settle for a mere third place out of 180 riders in 2010.

I talked with someone recently about Lance, and he brought up all the reports of drug use that Lance has had to deal with over the past decade. “I was glad when he was finally proven innocent,” he said. “Now, everyone knows he is clean and no one can falsely accuse him again.”

I really do wish it were that simple.

Unfortunately, there are still a great number of people who think that no one can be awesome without having an unfair advantage. When Lance said he was coming back, the head of the Tour de France said he was “embarrassing” the tour. How can a 7-time champion who’s never been proven guilty of anything illegal embarrass the tour? Personally, I think the embarrassment will come next year when Lance kicks everyone’s ass and wins the whole race at age 38, but I digress.

There are still groups that believe man did not walk on the moon forty years ago. Some people think climate change is hype. Obama couldn’t have been born in the U.S.

It’s a hard battle against these kinds of mindsets. Facts and logic will not change their minds. No amount of negative tests will convince some people that Lance doesn’t need drugs to win.

Or, You Could Just Knit Socks

You don’t have to be a champion athlete to find your share of nutcase critics. Go and read this post from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) to see another recent example of insanity.

Some people were skeptical when I wrote earlier this year about how you can be planting flowers for world peace, and someone will get highly pissed off. Is it really that bad?

Well, Stephanie writes about knitting. No offense to the knitting community (I know from close exposure to one of their tribe that they take themselves seriously), but from the outside I view knitting as a pretty tame activity. I don’t quite understand why anyone could become so enraged about sock-making, but I’m also not completely surprised.

When people ask why I don’t write very much about my family or home life on this site, I say it’s because of situations like this. One nutcase can do a lot of damage, unfortunately, and not everyone asks for a public life.

Getting People to Hate You

This quote from Hugh MacLeod puts it well:

“To get a lot of people to hate you, all you need to do is make a lot of money doing something you love.”

You can also replace “make a lot of money” with any number of other phrases that reflect success:

“…all you need to do is have a lot of fun….”
“…all you need to do is help a lot of people…”
“…all you need to do is be better than everyone else…”

This week the New Yorker tells the story of a man who decided to donate his kidney to someone he didn’t know. In the recovery room after the surgery, he answers the phone to an irate caller. The caller tells him she hopes his other kidney will fail because he should have donated to her husband instead of the stranger he chose. He gets the hospital to turn off the phone, but before he’s discharged, the newspaper publishes an editorial questioning whether it was ethical for him to be a voluntary organ donor.

To me, this is the height of absurdity. Someone checks into a hospital, has part of his body cut out and given to someone he doesn’t even know, and then someone else says he should die because he helped the “wrong” person. But again, I’m not that surprised.

***

I don’t wish to scare you off from doing great things and winning your own battles. Please, please, don’t stop doing what you’re good at.

I remind you of these things because winners need to be supported, not attacked. Specifically, here’s why this is important:

  • Criticism is often motivated by the discomfort some people feel when others succeed. It’s easier to bring winners down a notch than it is to rise to their level. Winners who possess self-confidence and focus are often labeled as arrogant by those who lack both qualities.
  • Winners attract other winners. I like hanging out with winners, including many of you who care about what I have to say. In addition to the nutcases, you’ll also attract a lot of fun people when you win.
  • The thing about proving people wrong – be aware that it can be a dangerous motivation. As mentioned, many of them will never be convinced no matter what you do. When you’re lying in a ditch after crashing your bike and breaking your collarbone, you’d better have your own motivation to recover enough to come back to the Tour de France three months later.

***

Congratulations again to Lance Armstrong and the Yarn Harlot for shaking off their critics and continuing to be awesome.

Also, congratulations to YOU. You’re a winner, right? Be prepared for the things that some people will say. But don’t give in.

###

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Lance Armstrong Image by Emlyn Stokes. Thanks to TDubb for the concept of self-confidence being perceived as arrogance.

Comment on this article

69 Responses to “What They Say About Winners”

  1. There is a certain insidious, zero-sum school of thought out there that can produce some outright insane talk and behavior. I used to work in investor relations, and some of the people who called me clearly thought that if somebody was making money where they were not, well – that person must be evil. If not evil, then at the very least criminal.

    Similarly, when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a Canadian) celebrates Canada Day, she is simply saying, “I love my country,” and the zero-summers need to finish off their pernicious equation by adding “…and therefore I hate yours.”

    I’ve wondered a lot about this over the years. Yes, there are lots of things that are scarce or limited. If you have Rembrandt’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” there’s only one of those, and ipso facto it does mean I don’t have it. But… you can share it, can’t you? By allowing me to stand and admire it, I am not robbing you of one single photon.

    It gets even crazier when people start talking about things like love, compassion, understanding, patience – these are things that are only limited by our own desire to limit them. My patriotism is not equivalent to hatred of anyone else’s country and never will be.

  2. This is a great article!

    Stefan Molyneux is a podcaster I listen to, who’s helped tons of people get out of abusive relationships and become more free, but there are forums out there full of people that hate him.

    Being awesome sure seems to bring out the crazies. Keep it up! Don’t let them get to you.

  3. Chris: “This week the New Yorker tells the story of a man who decided to donate his kidney to someone he didn’t know.”

    Then Zell Kravinsky, a(n) (in-)famous philanthrope is probably mentioned in that piece, too. Kravinsky donated 45 million dollars and then later one kidney. The New Yorker’s long article on him is quite fascinating. (Search for “New Yorker Zell Kravinsky profile” on Google.)

    Quotation from said article:


    “What I aspire to is ethical ecstasy,” he [ZK] said. “Ex stasis: standing out of myself, where I’d lose my punishing ego. It’s tremendously burdensome to me.” Once achieved, “the significant locus would be in the sphere of others.”

  4. Some people cannot be pleased. Ignore them and be happy.

  5. If you live a status quo life, you won’t ever attract negative attention. When you dare to make a difference, be bold, be excellent, you are now above the sight line, and many people frustrated with the status quo life will make you a target.

    Have you noticed that most of the people who have made the biggest mark in history for trying to improve the world have been killed for their efforts – Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Jesus, John Lennon, John F. Kennedy… Let’s not let that scare us, but when the world tries to tear us down for living up to our potential, just remember: we’re in very good company.

    Absolutely, congratulations to Lance Armstrong, a real winner! And congratulations to you Chris, for living above the sightline.

  6. I have been on the receiving end of some utterly puzzling crazy just because I dared to express different tastes and wished the mainstream would support them! Apparently thinking corsets are overdone in alt fashion means you’re being unfeminist, or something random like that.

    Winners define their moment of winning for themselves, and it’s not something we have the right to take away.

  7. Very inspiring post. If only people would realize that nothing is completely black or white, like Jill indicated. I think you bring up a good point by the way, Jill. One assumption that ticks me off: “You’re not liberal/agaist health-care/etc, therefore you must be a crazy, fundie, Scrooge Republican” or vice versa. It’s unnecessary.

    There’s enough happiness to go around for everyone in the world, if we would all just believe that.

  8. This article arrived in my mailbox at just the right moment. I consider myself a winner, and lately have been feeling the overwhelming force of those around me trying to bring me down. Like you say, “It’s easier to bring winners down a notch than it is to rise to their level.”
    After reading the article from the Yarn Harlot I felt like I was transported back to age 16, writing in my Live Journal and having other little girls criticize me for no good reason. It baffles me that there are people in this world (note: PEOPLE, not Americans or Canadians or any specific race or ethnicity — this is an ailment of all humanity) who are willing to put in so much effort to making someone else feel like crap. Who is the winner in these situations?!
    The long and the short of it is, we will never be able to please everyone around us. So I guess all we can do is buck up, know what we are good at and what we love, and try to live our lives with as much happiness as possible!
    I’m reminded of a Jenny Lewis song, “You Are What you Love” — a great lyric from it is , “You are what you love, and not what loves you back.”

  9. July 27, 2009

    Viv Maguire

    Well said re Lance Armstrong! I dont care if he came 3rd or 23rd – his efforts through adversity rise well above any feeble critics.

  10. July 27, 2009

    Monica Kelly

    Chris ~ Really enjoyed this post. It is true that people find it easier to criticize awesomeness than live up to the example. The diatribes against the Yarn Harlot are disturbing. Which brings me to my question: Is there no legal recourse for that type of behavior? It seems to me the comments are not just rude but threatening. One couldn’t get away with that behavior on the job, at school, etc.

    Just curious,
    Monica

  11. Thanks for speaking out against vicious craziness, and in support of awesomeness. It’s great that you’re drawing attention to what’s good in this world.

    -Linnea

  12. Pingback: Trackback from Linnea Writes

  13. I just went over to Yarn Harlot and read that post… unbelievable!! But, it is a reality that the more authentic you are, and fearless, the more critics and crazies will flock to you… I noticed this in the recent months at one of my favorite blogs. As the comments went from averaging 10/ post to 70+, more random crazy people, and critics showed up, seemingly out of nowhere. I suppose it’s a sign of accomplishment!

    Good article, Chris. And thanks for turning me on to Yarn Harlot! :)

  14. I just got through reading the Yarn Harlot saga – quite sad how awful people can be through relative anonymity. I had a very mild but similar commentor on my site for a while – my viewpoint on my site (living moderately) is probably about as non-controversial as knitting, but something I said raised her ire, enough that she went through dozens of old posts leaving extensive comments, which felt like she was kind of sending me an “I’m watching you” message. I was able to diffuse it by dignifying her opinions wherever possible and not engaging the inflammatory ones, but I feel lucky to have escaped with that.

    For a while I was debating with folks on the election, and eventually came to the same conclusion – that it is ultimately pointless, and doesn’t accomplish anything with people who are unreasonable. I try my best to be reasonable, and always hold out hope that others will meet me somewhere in the middle. Sad to say, that’s not a position that many share.

    At any rate, thank you for the positive message today – I found it both sobering and energizing, which is an unusual combination ;).

  15. These are such good points. I’ve been hearing so many silly comments lately about things in my own life:
    -”Why don’t you want to adopt kids from your own country?”
    -”Being a vegan is stupid. Why do you only care about animals and not people?”
    -”Why are you volunteeing with refugees? What about Americans?”
    -”You shouldn’t be [insert unconventional action]. It’s just not what we do.”

    It feels like you simply can’t please anyone. And that’s the truth of it: you can’t, and shouldn’t. We all have specific ways of making the world more beautiful and more just. If someone wants to criticize that, it’s a reflection of their limitations, not our purposes.

  16. Thanks for this post, Chris.
    I was pretty despondent when I got a few negative emails a few weeks ago after starting a Kiva Team on my blog.
    Pretty bizarre. Almost felt like posting the emails on my blog.

  17. Thank you for bringing up this timely topic.

    I always amazes me how some people just cannot tolerate another person being successful. It is so much easier for someone to be an armchair critic, than to go out and do something outstanding themselves. After all, it takes work to be outstanding. Each one of your examples, is someone who has spent many hours working at their craft to achieve their success.

    It’s really a sad statement of they way society is, that a person’s self esteem is so low, that the only way they can feel better is to find fault in another person.

  18. Chris, thank you for posting your thoughts. Very well done and unfortunately true.

    I’ve found there is nothing more difficult than chasing down what you love. Not only do you have to ward off the naysayers, but you have to quell the monkeys in your head. Both difficult on their own. We used to hold up the people who made it to the other end as shining examples. And we should again. Thank you for doing so.

    Anyhow, keep chugging…

  19. It is pretty amazing to me that the harder you work and the more successful you are, the more people will resent you for it. It doesn’t matter if you are doing positive things or not, society in general always seems to be looking for ways to criticize. However I believe that as long as you surround yourself with genuine people (such as the community at the AONC) the positive response will outweigh the negative. And as long as you believe in what you are doing, it doesn’t matter what the critics say!

  20. A tweet I saw today said: “I’m sorry, but if you love your job, you’re a loser.”

    Thank God I’m not following that guy on twitter, but I’m having second thoughts about continuing to follow the dude who retweeted it! :P

    The fact is, there are those who resent seeing people enjoying their jobs, are leading balanced lives, are making their own decisions in life, etc. either because they can’t seem to achieve these things, or they don’t believe it’s right to do so. The world wasn’t designed for happiness, but for toil and misery.

    If you prove to them otherwise, you are forcing them to question their beliefs, which is something they don’t feel comfortable doing. I’ve had people question my intentions when I act kindly towards them because human beings aren’t expected to be kind and caring. They’re expected to be mean, deceptive and exploitative. Offer them an alternative image of mankind and *you* seem to be the one with the problem!

    To being awesome (despite what the critics and the losers say or think)…

    Haider

  21. I’m a winner and so are you. Thanks Chris. Some people are just jealous of the winners’ success and wish to bring them down to their level. Bless the man who gave up his kidney. He did the right thing and he knows. That’s why I’m sure the lady on the phone didn’t deter him from claiming what he did.

    Without opposition, there can be no success. Another great lesson learned.

  22. Bravo for this one! I find it to be very true. Sad, miserable and negative people love to try to poke holes in the success of people who risk. But it is just because they are too timid or scared to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. Nothing wrong with that…..EXCEPT when they have to denigrate other’s accomplishments. There are so many crazy people out there, Chris, so I agree with your decision not to share too much personal info.

  23. Another timely post, Chris. I also read the New Yorker article and experienced the same reaction. I don’t have the answers, but I do believe that some of those you mentioned, coupled with a few other factors possessed by those who criticize vs try: fear of stepping out of their comfort zones, a mentality of scarcity vs abundance, insecuries, an entitlement mindset–all contribute to such vitriolic responses. In an ideal world, we would all spend our energies striving towards our individual highest potential, and helping those around us to do the same. We do not, however, live in an ideal world. The best that we can do is detach from those who try to pull us down to their level vs looking for role models to strive towards, surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and consider the rest to be white noise. While constructive criticism is to be valued, those who simply seek to destroy must be ignored to the extent that we can do so.

  24. Chris, loved the post. what some people don’t know is that there’s enough greatness to go around. if I’m great it doesn’t make you less great or vice versa. Unfortunately, we’re taught to believe in scarcity from a young age. I no longer subscribe to that mentality.

    To all Chris’s commenters: “you’re all fantastic!”

    Muse thx, G.

  25. Great premise for an article (as always!). It does seem that, for many people, destruction is as much an art form as creation, and they can’t help but practice their art so as to bring the real achievers down a notch (to their level?).

    All you can do is keep moving forward with what you love and continue to live your life for YOURSELF, not for any of the critics, whether they love you or hate you. Because at the end of the day your opinion about how you lived your life will still mater, but the voice of every other person who has ever said something about it will have long since faded away.

  26. Hey Chris–I’m a little surprised by this post–not so much what you said, but the tone. It feels a bit militant or antagonistic, as though you’re angry at the naysayers. That surprises me only because it seems that you make a point of NOT being like that most of the time. Not really a criticism so much as a curious observation, with the admitted possibility that I may be allowing my bias to color my perceptions.

    I prefer not to think in terms of winning when it comes to life because that implies that there’s a loser, which goes back to that scarcity mentality. I like your notion that one person’s success doesn’t come at another’s success when you think in terms of abundance, but “winning” seems contradictory in that context. I don’t wish to win, but to succeed on my own terms by my own standard.

    Perhaps it’s just semantics, but words matter, especially in a community where we mostly communicate in writing.

    But you’re absolutely right about Lance–I have a close friend who’ll tell you that he owes his life to Lance’s example, and that’s enough to make him a man of substance if he never pedals a bike again.

    Thanks for making me think–again.

  27. Authenticity will always make inauthentic people feel uncomfortable.

  28. This is so true, especially the advice on being careful who you motivate.

    I’m much more motivated by someone telling my I “can’t”. I know Lance most likely feeds off this, other wise there’s no way he’d be back out there.

    As a random side note, I’m sure everyone has seen the video of Buzz Aldrin getting confronted by the haggler who won’t get away and finally calls him a “liar” & a “coward” in his face. I try my best not to be a violent person, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cheer when Buzz punched the guy 1/3 his age right in the face!

    While maybe not literally, but proverbially that’s how we should strive to overcome these people. Throw it back in their face! :-)

  29. Chris,
    Here is a quote that has helped me many times “When you start caring what other people think you start living your life to please them”.

  30. Great post Chris.

    It’s amazing how often we let the critics impact us. In reality they are not worth worrying about. I think everyone has two responses they can chose from when facing criticism. One is to let it get to you. This slows you down, impacts your attitude, and limits your effectiveness. The second is to use it as a motivator. Let the criticism push you to excel. That’s what Lance Armstrong does – in fact that’s what all champions do.

    Thanks Chris.

  31. July 27, 2009

    david johnson

    Armstrong would not have won so often if it had not been for his team whose members he followed during each stage of the race to save his energy for the end of the stage. Earlier winners won from the front.

  32. Chris,

    Another great post. I have experienced one negative commenter on my blog. Since it came right at the beginning, it sort of got to me and I thought for a while what I should do. In the end, I decided to do nothing, as it was, as you said, pointless. I also thought that putting myself out there means that I’m making myself vulnerable to all kinds of people. I guess that’s part of a package of expressing yourself.

    I believe that when you see other people’s success, you should celebrate it, so it’ll also come to you. One of my favorite quotes is “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own”.

    Etsuko

  33. Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been struggling lately with the idea that if I get too big in the world, people won’t like me. The way you’ve described this quirk of human nature makes it easier to feel this fear, and keep moving forward with my life anyway.

  34. July 27, 2009

    Thomas John

    Once again, your post relates back to Ayn Rand; this time through her belief that society tends to celebrate mediocrity, and abhor genuine individual success. It is a recurring theme in her novel The Fountainhead. While society and the “zero summers” may have negative and disparaging things to say about the successful individualist, I have utmost respect for such a person. And it is encouraging at a personal level to know that such people exist in this world.

  35. Great post Chris. We live in an interesting world amidst suprising human beings. Different talents at different levels. I understand with what you say about winners. Have you considered the term ‘staunch believers of growth’? Same thing. Hugh McLeod has his “crazy foolish support crew” who are bright, supportive and affectionate. It’s the attitude all have in common: you either commit to a goal or support anothers along the way, but not sit on your hands or deny someone else their growth.

    Apparently we can only let go off something or someone, if we love them (this includes nasties). By understanding them, and their innate complexities, they lose power over us. But yeah human nature can be a very funny thing. (Enders Game by Orson Scott Card is a good reading example of this theory.)

    Anyhoo: I like your blog, you’re on a mission and good on you for doing what you want to do! I always enjoy reading what your blogs. I’m fond of Hugh’s as well, wonderful stuff.

  36. Excellent post! Just commenting to let you know I really enjoyed reading it.

  37. David Johnson: Cycle road racing is a team sport – that’s how it works, the team collaborates to help its best rider win. For example, on the final day of the Tour we saw excellent team work from the Columbia team on the Champs Elysee which allowed Mark Cavendish to eventually win the stage. Without the team work it’s doubtful he’d have been able to do so.

  38. Chris,

    This is so true. In fact in Australia we have a name for this specifically.. it’s called Tall-Poppy Syndrome. Basically, people try to bring others down just because of their success.

    It sucks that for some people, this is the only way they can feel better about themselves.

  39. Chris,

    I hope someday to be successful enough to be hated! (Sounds like something Groucho Marx would say.)

    One thing I’ve learned as I’ve matured is that while other people may have the right to express their opinions of me, I retain the right to not really care. We all want to be liked. We all seek approval. But as I have grown, I now do the things that I do to make ME happy, never concerned about anyone’s opinions – negative or positive. Life is too short to worry about those content to trash you because it’s easier than building a better life for themselves.

    Appreciate the post…as I always do!

  40. This is what I call “The iPhone Effect”. (It’s a silly name for a very deep phenomenon.) When people bought the expensive first-generation iPhone for $650, they tried it out and came to one of two conclusions.

    1. The iPhone is totally amazing, totally worth the $650 I paid for it, and in fact it’s so incredible that I’m going to tell everyone how great it is (and, incidentally, what a great decision I made to buy it.)

    2. The iPhone is pretty cool, but maybe not worth all the money I shelled out to buy it. I guess that makes me kind of a chump.

    Which story do you think most people are going to tell to themselves? And to others? I think most people will go with story #1, because nobody wants to think of themselves as a chump.

    A consequence of this is that if anyone disses the iPhone, the loyal iPhone owners will jump in to defend the honor of the iPhone, because they want to feel that they made a wise decision and that they are not chumps.

    Hence, just like you said, Chris, people feel threatened by others’ actions because they themselves are insecure. Others’ actions threaten the story they’re telling themselves to make themselves secure in the knowledge that they’re a good and wise person and that they’re doing the right thing.

    It’s a shame when people need to tear others down to make themselves feel secure and good about themselves. But at the root of it, it’s usually fear and insecurity rather than intentional malice.

  41. Wonderfully written.
    I linked my way here from Ravelry, my main interest in what was written about my hero, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, to find inspiration from your observations. Thank you, M. Guillebeau. (Insightful comments, too.)

  42. Chris,

    Beautifully said.

  43. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIl5RxhLZ5U&feature=related

    Lance Armstrong: “Everybody wants to know what I’m on…what am I on? I’m on my bike, busting my ass, 6 hours a day. What are you on?”

    Nuff said

  44. Hi Chris,
    Spot on. As many people have commented above, your post arrived at a really timely moment for me. It’s shocking how many people have to put up with negative criticism – especially from people who are meant to be friends. I’m all for positive constructive criticism because it makes you better. But people criticising your choices without suggesting anything else are destructive and should be ignored. It links to your point about ‘singing to the choir’ and gathering a community of people around you who DO get what you are trying to achieve and ignoring the rest. That, and using it as motivation to spur you on for the next challenge.
    Thank you.

  45. Chris–I just want you to know that it’s your fault that I couldn’t sleep last night. That’s a compliment; your article stimulated my thinking and prompted me to re-write a previously composed blog post.

    I’m still not sure if we have divergent views or we’re just saying the same thing with different words. Regardless, your thoughts and some interesting comments helped me to clarify my own position.

    This is the sort of thing for which I don’t mind losing sleep. But I’m glad you only post twice each week–I’m too old for all-nighters!

  46. Thanks for this Chris. As I take the steps towards my awesome self I see this a very apt lesson. I recently raised the ire of a family member by taking the high road (refusing to take sides) in a conflict that did not involve me. I found myself baffled that I could be the bad guy for doing what I thought was right. Not only do many resent fame, excellence, awesomeness, but change of any kind terrifies. Thanks for reminding me.

  47. July 28, 2009

    david johnson

    Moom said road cycling is a team sport, and it is. How many people know the names of the other members of Astana – apart from Contrador and maybe Andreas Kloden? How many times did George Hincapie lead Armstrong up a mountain, only for Armstrong to take off near the top and get the glory. Who knows and remembers – and appreciates – the members of US Postal who rode their legs off for the greater glory of Armstrong. Where is their glory? Where is their recognition? Maybe they don’t want any and the cash they earn is enough, but cycling in a competitive sport and I’m sure they all have a streak of competitiveness in them that would have liked a few minutes in the sun, and public and well-publicised words of thanks from the one who went round the course in the fastest time. Would Armstrong have won so often if he hadn’t had the strongest team? I tend to think not.

  48. July 28, 2009

    Christopher

    This was one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. There is a phenomenon which occurs at universities called “Academic Mobbing” where professors try to tear down a very successful professor in order to raise their standing. It is so common that it is a specialty area of study in Sociology and books and journals are devoted to the topic. Universities have created a large number of ways that faculty can file complaints against each other (e.g., harassment, research ethics, grievances). Typically once a complaint is filed the person accused can from that time forth never openly criticize the person who filed the complaint or they risk being charged with retaliation. As a result, there is little disincentive to file a complaint and great rewards for doing so. Hundreds of these complaints are filed at the typical research university, many times against the most productive faculty. Typically the productive faculty get tired of defending themselves against repeated complaints and leave for another job. If you want to read more here is a website devoted to the topic.

  49. You know you’ve made it when this happens.

    Oddly, I don’t fear it. (This could be because I’ve yet to experience it.)

    For now, I believe the only power they have is what you give them.

  50. I enjoy most of your posts – ocassionally, your hammer will strike the anvil so purely that the ring arrests my attention.

    You certainly did it with this post. No matter what your station in life, there are those around you that just simply get irritated when you succeed. There is nothing you can do about it but note it and recognize it for what it is.

    I for one, enjoy being a ‘grain of sand.’

    Thanks for the post!!!

    ZenDarb

  51. It can be fascinating to see how the ego works to feel superior when faced with someone who lives out of the box or dares to live – not just dream – the dream.

    As for Lance, they sure put on a great show of authority this year. I thought it couldn’t get better then back when Roberto Heras or Chechu would lead him up to the foot of the climb where Lance would then attack a shattered peloton – or better, try searching ochoa armstrong pantani on Google! But Astana were a formidable bunch this year even w/out Levi after his crash…

  52. Hi Chris, the most famous quote of Giulio Andreotti (former italian prime minister) says:
    “Success wears out who has it not”

    (Forgive me if my english isn’t correct)

    ciao
    alexander

  53. This is a great post. I blazed through the Yarn Harlot saga with a gaping jaw. Go figure. Sometimes it takes very little to set someone off.

  54. A friend passed along a link to your site a couple weeks, and I’m so glad! You’re a much-needed, positive force in this world, and your straightforward style really goes to the heart of whatever you’re writing about.

    A therapist where I work said at one point, “What other people think about us is really none of our business.” That comment has stuck with me and has helped me detach myself from the negative noise that surrounds me at work sometimes. No matter what I do, I can’t help what other people think about me or how they act towards me, and that’s okay. What I can help is my own actions and what I think about myself as a result–that’s firmly in my locus of control.

  55. You have put into words what I have noticed over the last few years. I recently completed my Masters degree -while working full time, and was surprised at the number of people who told me it was pointless. I will now be teaching non-traditional college students this fall and will share this post with them – not all your friends and families will support your great leap into growth and greatness. The readers’ comments support your opinion as well.

  56. I gave up trying to understand certain kinds of people a while back. No matter what you do, some people are just determined to be miserable. That’s their choice.

    Fortunately, there are 4,080 blog comments on that Yarn Harlot post you mentioned right now, and the post is only 4 days old. Every one of them is supportive of her, and letting her know that the crazies do not outweigh the good portions of humanity.

    So glad I am not one of those negative people. How miserable they must be.

  57. July 29, 2009

    Fadzilah

    Well done Chris…you said it right! It is a pity we have too many such people exist in this world……….but then we know who usually gets the last laugh anyway!!!!!!

  58. Great post Chris!

    I am French and I am a little ashamed by the way at first some in France welcomed Lance back. On the Tour’s stages, his foundation everyday raised money by selling those ubiquitous yellow bracelets. Lance made it a point that all money raised would go only for research against cancer in France. That’s when the opinion started to tilt.

    Now only a few old-guard-bitter journalists/retired cyclists/Tour de France managers still hold a grudge against him. As you said, you can’t win everyone, unless Lance competes in the Tour 20 years from now, breaks 2 legs falling from the slopes of Mont Ventoux and thanks everyone for testing him 24/7. Right there, maybe. ;)

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  61. Those that feel the need to knock the great ones down a peg or two are acting from the place of a fragile ego. Let them criticize, verbalize and show the world how insecure they are while the great ones like Lance Armstrong ride on into the sunset with the satisfaction of a job well done.

  62. Lance Armstrong is our hero. He resisted cancer at the same time my husband was fighting his cancer. My husband is also a bike rider. And with the exception of the week of surgery, and the last few days of radiation, he showed up at school teaching his students, and he rode his bike. I am as proud of him, as I was watching Lance win the Tour, that first time. Then each and every time we watched our hearts were with Lance, identifying with the strength one must draw to survive cancer, and probably most of life! Anyway, we applauded his retirement and hoped he’d find ways to jump in and do the good works of the foundation. I guess the total push of the Tour was too much loss for him. So he came back. And third, my goodness, was incredible at his age, and time to prepare considered injury, etc. We too cannot wait until next year. Whether he comes in first or last, he adds class and intelligence, and brings attention to what it takes to survive, priceless value. But I do admit, I will be rooting to see Lance on the number one spot on the podium.

  63. Regarding your “Yarn Harlot” comments. I went to the website (thanks to your link) and read about half the story and then decided it was too much negativity on this wonderful Sunday. I wrote her and told her if I was in her position when I saw the emails, or posting, or from where ever they emerge I would use DELETE. I would not waste my time reading her negative website, nor trying to reason with the unreasonable. It never works. Arguments cannot be won. We either agree to disagree if our opinions differ or there is no reason to continue. Anyway, all this stuff just fuels fear. There is too much negativity in the air. The media picks up on something, amplifies it to death. You are even doing it when you expound on how we must all watch out if we do well in life. What would happen if we all just turned the tv off when they start in on the fear mongering? What would happen if we just delete every time a negative person who wants to bring everyone down appears? Without an audience what will people like that do? Just some thoughts. Thanks for yours.

  64. Chris, thank you for this post. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I had just read the whole horrible saga of George Sodino, the man who murdered the 3 women at L.A. Fitness. My husband emailed me a few minutes later to let me know that there was a hummingbird floating outside of our house sucking nectar from a flower. I was in that moment where the horribleness in this world seemed to outweigh the beauty and wonderfulness of this world. But, then, I read this line from your post, “It’s easier to bring winners down a notch than it is to rise to their level.” There are crazy people out there but I am glad that there are more people out there who are fighting hard not to be knocked down.

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  66. This line was something I needed:

    …”Winners who possess self-confidence and focus are often labeled as arrogant by those who lack both qualities…”

    I just went through a rough time and this quote couldn’t have came at a better time. Keep writing, I enjoy your outlook on life :)

  67. the real winners are those who set out a goal for themselves, and decide for themselves that they have won, regardless of the real-life contest (if there was one at all). Winning is relative to oneself, and what others say to the contrary are relative to themselves.

    people who aspire to win in their own personal challenges applaud those who win in theirs, since it gives them hope that they too can win. People who pull others down have very low self-esteem and don’t see any hope of personal victory, and need other losers to commiserate with them.

    of course all these are easier said than done, different for each individual, and that’s why winning is a very personal matter.

  68. Reading this essay, I felt relief. When I’ve tried to be all I can, to be helpful,
    to excel and just plain feel good, I’ve at times been shocked and really hurt
    by the venom of others, including family members and people I thought were my friends. It’s difficult, but it’s nice to know that others have experienced the same thing.

    But the universe threw me a great tool I use in pursuing the life I want. In the last couple of years, I had a minor medical crisis and had cancer surgery. No one messes with you when you more or less say “I had cancer. I’m doing as I like.”

    I’m sort of reinventing my life now. It’s tiring and the lack of support is disappointing, but I’m going for it.

    I’m glad I found this site!
    Cheers!
    Maggie

  69. Absolutely gold. Preach on brotha. I’ve always considered myself a winner or at least try as hard as I could to win and when I tell people, instantly, the judgements start. I cannot tell you how often I have to dumb down or hide my accomplishments because of the people who will yap at me for it. To attract winners, you’ll need to leave hints of your own accomplishments. Unfortunately, you might also attract some leechers, moochers or naysayers. Its just part of the process of winning.

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