Work Hard, Envy Less

Jan 11 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

It can be frustrating to lead our lives in constant comparison of ourselves with people who are more successful, talented and wealthier. Trying to discredit them, maligning them and attributing their success to nothing but sheer luck are some of the few coping mechanisms we use.

What is infrequent in Ethiopia is celebrating someone else’s success and trying to get to where they are in a healthy way. We mostly just get envious and intimidated. We avoid these people as much we coan, missing out on the great connections across our career paths, because we are not secure enough to honour and cheer them on.

In the social media era, life is being defined by the context of the few. This in turn results in prejudice and confusion. We end up undermining personal achievements and goals. In comparing ourselves to them in an unhealthy manner, we invite instability and unhappiness. It leads us to assume that we are not capable of overcoming our personal challenges.

A generation pampered by social media is putting unhealthy pressure on itself for the sake of being accepted by crowds. Most reconfigure their entire personality and approach depending on the person or the people they are dealing with. Most convince themselves that it is best to stand with what most believe instead of standing for what they believe in.

A great number of people look down on themselves, because their life is not like the people they observe online. These people assume that they will not be happy with themselves until they have reached the stage their social media friends have reached. But the race to try to become someone else never ends but becomes damaging, because there will always be someone more accomplished and successful.

The good thing is that we all possess a great deal of natural talent, which makes our life diverse and interesting. Nevertheless, if we bury our talent, we do not just lose but also destroy ourselves. Our mindset must shift in order for us to be able to see how to act in a way that can address our needs and how to accomplish them.

Humans are capable of navigating the delicate balance between learning from others to becoming them. In our lives, we are in the driver’s seat. While we take valuable advice and wisdom from the experienced, it should be we who write our live's agenda and how to direct it to the right path.

It helps us to expand our personal notions and plans for life. It helps us to find meaning and fulfillment in life using our personal talents.

No doubt, it is never easy to focus on our personal life goals. We compare ourselves in many ways, which sometimes makes it is easier to discredit our ideas and plans. This is a common pattern for many. Our deepest personal needs are ignored and replaced by what others think of us or perceive our ambitions in life to be. Without realising it and by just looking to others, we find ourselves in emotionally wrenching quadrants of dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, there are people from whom we can learn. These people are all around us, and we can identify them with how content they are.

Such people are amazed at how full of ourselves most of us are. They are sad to see that we allow money to define our lives. They are amazed at how we find it impossible to show appreciation for those who matter most to us. They are shocked at our superstitions, our worries and our identity politics.

These people feel great about themselves and what they have achieved in life. They are grateful for their families who helped them thrive in life and have gained the mental resilience to withstand many kinds of difficulties.

Unsurprisingly, these people see the importance of knowing a few people deeply rather than knowing hundreds of people superficially. They have found gratitude in the old norm of smiling and greeting passersby. They respect people even when they do not agree with them.

To be true to ourselves, we need to transform ourselves. This will not be easy. We need to free ourselves from the flawed perception that some are more or less human than us, that social media barely reflects society and that the consumer culture is leading us into buying stuff that we do not need.

We usually overlook the pleasure of the small things, like a beautiful sunset. Chasing others people’s ambitions costs us a great deal, even failing to appreciate the currency our talents could have bought us. Personal growth comes through a series of well-mapped learning stages from mental infancy to the highest stages of mental adultness.

When such transformations take root, we no longer see people as a threat but as supporters of our personal development. We organise the relationship between “us” and the “world” in a constructive way. We realise our individual experience bursts with creativity every day.

The presence of talent in each of us should not be wasted. It was granted to us to use effectively and to benefit from. Using our gifts means dissolving unwanted influences by being loyal to our life goals and priorities irrespective of what is going on in our surroundings.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 11,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1028]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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