It’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail. What’s so deliciously spiteful about this quote from Gore Vidal is the acknowledgment that in victory some delight in the defeat of others. If you’re competing for Olympic gold then clearly for you to win others must lose but it certainly wouldn’t be in the Olympic spirit to rub it in. I get the impression that those who win have more respect for their fellow competitors. Like two boxers no matter what was said before the fight afterwards these comrades in pain know a lot about the courage, determination and character of each other.
It can be pretty brutal in the world of office politics the competition for promotion can be fierce. How many times have I heard a conversation around the water cooler which begrudges the success of a colleague with snide remarks about who you know not what you know, suggestions that the person over estimates their own ability, takes credit for the work of others and is referred to as Mr Teflon because nothing sticks when things go wrong.
There may not be much mutual respect or pleasure in the success of colleagues but what about when your friends seem awkward and underwhelmed by your success? In my early career a new job or promotion was celebrated by friends with enthusiasm down the pub. But as the jobs got bigger and the friends got fewer the celebrations became muted. At first I was surprised, puzzled and a little hurt. Were they jealous, did my success make them feel less successful, did they feel it was a further drifting apart? I don’t know but as you get older you tend not to make new friends, colleagues are just that colleagues, so if you lose friends you tend not to replace them. It’s not enough to succeed.
Blair McPherson author of Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House www.russellhouse.co.uk