Few things can bring a team’s momentum to a screeching halt quicker than jealousy. When teammates become envious of each other’s achievement, they stop focusing on team goals.
Jealousy leads to bitterness, which eventually leads to apathy…which eventually leads to failure.
It’s amazing how easily jealousy can cause you to slide into apathy without you even realizing it’s happening.
You start out with a great attitude. You’re optimistic about the direction of your life, and you’re putting your full energy into helping your team reach its goals.
But then something changes. You experience a personal setback or two, while someone else on your team has a few things go his or her way. Before you know it, “Why can’t that be me?” becomes “I don’t care anymore.”
I equate the slide into apathy to a phenomenon airplane pilots experience known as spatial disorientation—or, as they call it, “Spatial D.”
“Spatial D” is a condition where pilots lose their sense of direction and become incapable of determining their altitude and airspeed in reference to their surroundings. It happens when planes fly at night or through thick clouds. The low visibility prevents the pilot from maintaining a point of visual reference, like the horizon or the ground.
Gradual changes in airspeed and tilting aren’t enough to trigger the pilot’s inner sense of balance, and the plane can end up flying upside down, without the pilot even knowing it.
If not corrected, the plane’s speed and banking will grow in intensity, resulting in what is notoriously known as a graveyard spiral. By the time the pilot is aware of what’s going on, it’s too late. The plane is already doomed.
“Spatial D” has been the cause of many plane crashes, including John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s fatal crash near Martha’s Vineyard in 1999.
Experienced pilots can overcome “Spatial D” by relying on their instruments, instead of just their eyes.
Good teammates can do the same thing to overcome jealousy and stop apathy.
Instead of looking at the achievement of your teammates, focus on what they did to acquire whatever it is that you also desire—i.e. the price they paid.
Then, ask yourself two questions: 1. “Am I able to pay that price?” and 2. “Am I willing to pay that price?”
Your answers to those questions are your instruments. They convert achievement into choices.
There’s really not much in this world you can’t have, if you’re willing to work for it.
If you want a Lamborghini, you can get one—provided you’re willing to be patient and sacrifice.
If you work twenty hours a day, seven days a week, drink only water, eat nothing but Ramon noodles, and get rid of all your personal luxuries, you will, in relative time, have saved enough money to buy a Lamborghini.
But are you willing to do that?
Are you willing to sacrifice sleep? Are you willing to survive on that kind of diet? Are you willing to part with your cell phone and all your other personal luxuries? Are you willing to give up spending time with your friends and family?
If you’re not willing to do so, then why are you jealous of someone who has a Lamborghini? There’s no need to be. You’re choosing not to have one.
Of course, other life obligations may preclude you from making those types of sacrifices. You may not be able to pay the price. But then again, you are choosing to prioritize your other life obligations over buying the metaphorical Lamborghini. Accepting that your priorities are your choice should give you inner peace.
When you reframe the issue in terms of what you’re able to do, what you’re willing to do, and what you’re unwilling to do, you take control of the situation. You ward off jealousy and you allow yourself to be happy for someone else’s good fortune.
If you have become the type of teammate who finds yourself sliding into apathy, then maybe it’s time to check your instruments and evaluate your choices.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.
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