The Zero Sum Illusion

How generous are you really? How happy are you to see others succeed?

When I entered the “real world” after graduating business school with my MBA, I was scared. I had never worked full time in my life. I approached my career with energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm, but without a strong sense of true self-worth. After all, what could I bring to the workplace that would be embraced, valued, and appreciated that others hadn’t already thought of. Needless to say, I started my professional life insecure and viewing the world as a zero-sum – if you win, I must necessarily lose.

It was hard for me to celebrate my friends’ and colleagues’ successes. I really wanted to (and felt guilty that I didn’t), but I was stuck in the mindset that they got a piece of the pie, I’d go hungry.

As I began to “work on” my inner self, I realized that the zero-sum model was completely bogus. “Anita,” said my friend, Caryl, one day, “the glass isn’t half empty nor half-full. It’s overflowing. So stop moping and get a bigger glass.” How profound! Caryl is wise woman.

I took Caryl’s advice to heart and I began to view the world through my “ocean model” – there’s plenty of water out there and everyone can have a swim.

I am happy for all the wonderful advances my friends and colleagues make. Instead of feeling diminished, I feel proud, encouraged, and motivated to challenge myself to succeed in the ways I desire to.

So when you hear about a friend’s, family member’s, colleague’s, or neighbor’s success – be the first to stand up and cheer. Then go out and make some of your own good news and send it on to me!

Have a great day,


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