In an early 90’s movie called “A Bronx Tale”, Robert DeNiro struggles as a father in the 1960’s trying his damnedest to shake some sense into his young son and instill heavy life lessons. After his only child got involved with some local neighborhood gangsters, DeNiro tries everything he can by whipping out some time-tested motivational quotes that you probably still see on social mediums like Pinterest or Instagram.
In the movie, after his son was found with a tidy sum of ‘dirty’ money courtesy of the well-versed gangsters, he sternly delivers a verbal roundhouse kick, saying, “Remember kid, they wanna see you do good, but never better than them. Remember that.” Cue a few more good quotes and a solid performance, and the movie makes its point. But it’s no denying that this particular quote has stuck around to the present day. And that’s no coincidence.
No coincidence, unfortunately, because it provides a unique perspective into how society functions today. In a world where competition never sleeps, it’s easy to get caught in a nasty and unnecessary conflict simply because you’re doing everything right. How jacked is that? Well, let’s break it down.
It’s hammered into your brain that helping others is the way to achieve a healthy, balanced, fulfilled, and prosperous life. Is this wrong? Not at all. It’s been proven time and time again by some of the most successful people that their ability to help others has propelled their own careers ten-fold. And further, they fully admit they would never be where they’re at, had it not been for the sacrifices of others helping them. Awesome, badass, and it’s a good reminder for everyone to hear it, for the simple reason it holds tremendous value. But here’s the problem they fail to get across: most of those successful people mentor others to a point where their success is surpassed, and they continue to help without hesitation. Does this make sense? Helping others to a point where they become more successful than you, and still gladly helping?
Here’s the breakout of the entire human race: while probably 20% of the population are just bitter fuckups who would love to see you fail at absolutely anything you do, including your dinner choice, there’s another 30% who are still bitter but make some effort here and there to give decent advice and help when they can. Then there’s another 30% who aren’t necessarily bitter about their own life, but provide advice and help when called upon. The last 9% are the most genuine and generous folks, the ones who not only help when they are called upon, but go out of their way to provide assistance. And here’s the kicker: they aren’t going to get bitter when they see you doing better than them. So since you’re probably overwhelmed with all these percentages being thrown out, let’s recap: that leaves 99% of the population mentioned. What about that 1% from earlier? They’re the extreme outliers, the ones who see their future as being equal half mentor, half mentee; i.e. you give and you get. So what does this mean for the 90% grouped together, which excludes the generous folk and the outliers (who make up 9% and 1%, respectively)? It means this: they help, until you start doing better than them in life. And at that point, a transition occurs, leaving you at the tail end of their insecurities, jealousies, and misery.
How this happens, and why this happens, sounds like a mystery until you realize it’s essentially super simple: you’re winning at life, and suddenly they’re sucking at it. Like the last kid getting picked in dodge-ball, no one wants to be put in that position and thus you’ve become a threat to them. Now in the wild, dealing with threats is easy. They’re either eliminated, or you attempt to run away from them fast enough to pull a hamstring. Lucky for us, we live in a somewhat civilized society, so the laws of nature shouldn’t really apply here. Unfortunately, when you’re viewed as a threat to someone, the end result is always the same: you usually aren’t the friends you once were, if friends at all. But here’s the most important takeaway: this means you’re merrily on your way to your purpose, your dreams, and your best life, and sometimes you have to leave others behind. Let’s call these people who you ideally need to leave behind “slow-downers”.
Keep Moving Forward
And here’s where we get flabbergasted. As we move up in life, we try our hardest to bring everyone with us, including those slow-downers. We rationalize with them, and exude patience we wouldn’t even grant our own parents. We try to work with them through the sudden bitterness, help them with their anger, and exhaust ourselves trying to understand why they feel this way. One of the hardest things we go through as a human is seeing a friend, relative, or significant other continue to be stuck with bad habits while we evolve and surge ahead. Unfortunately, letting go is your only real option. You will only limit your potential if you decide to stop and wait while these people don’t move forward. Let that soak in again: you will only limit your potential if you decide to stop and wait while these people just cannot move forward. And if you stick around long enough waiting, your ‘trying’ turns into ‘forcing’, and thus a vicious cycle begins as they begin to resent you even more. “Why are they pushing this on me?” Now who in their right mind wants to deal with these slow-downers? The best thing you can do for yourself is to leave them alone. Yeah, that’s right. As in say goodbye, wave, walk out the door.
You want them aliens after you?
Here’s a great movie example on what it’s basically like. Let’s say you were stuck in a real-life Predators, where if you aren’t familiar, the basic premise is some hideously ugly (double negative, I know, but they’re still really ugly) creatures are enjoying chasing humans in some kind of organized jungle hunt (hopefully this never happens). In the course of this ‘scenario’, someone in the group of poor humans gets injured and slows everyone down. In a life and death situation, where some blood-thirsty Predator-style hooligan was after your very soul, would you wait around for the schmuck who somehow broke his ankle, thereby risking your life? Nope. So now imagine your real life. Think of the injured dude as your friend who can’t seem to grow in life, and think of the Predator as your old life. If you stop and constantly wait around, while telling yourself you’re doing him/her a favor because you’re “patient”, the worst version of your life will eventually find you and will eventually suck the joy and potential out of your soul. You don’t want that.
Remember that jealousy is simply a reminder to someone of what they can be. Every single human being put on this Earth should ideally live a prosperous, passion-filled life. Whether or not they accept that reality is their problem. But for these people, seeing others on their way to achieving success only causes tension and bitterness, none of which you want to be around. So if you start noticing that some of the people in your life begin to resent you in little ways, make remarks, stop hanging out with you so much, or maybe even talk shit about you, stop for a second. Before you begin this victim mentality and wonder “but why me? I’m trying to improve my life!”, understand this: it’s not about you, it’s about them. When people realize that others are enjoying life and having more success than they are, it usually comes at a price: instead of being motivated to follow suit, they are spiteful.
But most importantly, look at the bright side: it means you are well on your way to live out part of or all of your dreams.