We’re told at a young age that jealousy is a Bad Feeling. You shouldn’t feel it and if you do, you need to get rid of it fast. But, what if we take a moment to sit with it? Could we learn something from this feeling? My thought is yes. This being said, I’m not talking about the toxicity that results from sitting so far into your jealousy. I’m talking about examining jealousy with a critical, logical lens. 

I applied and was accepted into a local creative coworking space last week. Yesterday, I received the member newsletter that highlighted all its members’ recent accomplishments. They spanned everything from a newly published book to articles in major newspapers (it wasn’t only limited to writing, those were just the ones I noticed). Immediately, I got a sense of imposter syndrome – feeling like I wasn’t accomplished enough to join the group – but I tamped that down quickly enough by telling myself that I was accepted for a reason.

Next, I experienced stinging jealousy. After all, I’m a writer. I could’ve written those things. I could’ve written a book. When you work solo for so long, you learn to be a little more dialed into your feelings. So what I did next was wonder why I was feeling jealous. Since these particular sources of jealousy were not new to me, I came to the conclusion that it was because I wanted my name to be an article byline again and for me to be a published book author. To me, the jealousy reinforced my already existing career goals. I was then able to look jealousy in the eyes, repackage it into admiration, and continue on with my day.

While the above is a career-centric look, there’s also jealousy of other companies’ successes. “I swear, this company’s new product is in every post I’m seeing.” It’s okay to feel jealous of this success. Everyone wants brand exposure! What’s not okay is just sitting there with the jealousy and not pinpointing the source. Are you jealous of their success or are you actually mad at yourself for not putting together a launch plan? Is the plan something you can do next time and aim for this brand exposure as a goal? I hope so. 

For Part 1, I wrote a little on being introspective with your jealousy. For Part 2, I’ll take a look at how you can harness jealousy in an outward way (e.g. using FOMO for sales). There will always be exceptions to jealousy, like seeing someone get a celebrity endorsement when you don’t have the marketing budget to execute that. But I posit that with a little positive thinking and introspection, you can harness jealousy in an effective and healthy manner.

And if you want to read more about envy at work and how it affects teams, HBR wrote a good piece on it in 2010 (freemium article).