Who am I?
Hint: I’m the one who can sabotage your career success and daily job satisfaction.
Is the Green Monster Eating Away at You?
By Karen Porter
[Note: This article first appeared in a free issue of The Effective Admin newsletter in 2007. The referral system option mentioned in the article first paragraph was created on a trial basis and is also since discontinued.]
Last week I sent an e-mail to all subscribers about the referral system option related to shopping at The Effective Admin Store. Basically it said that if five customers purchasing the “An Effective Admin VIP” package say you referred them, you then get the VIP package at no cost or if you already purchased it, I refund what you paid.
Almost immediately I received an email from an administrative professional who has never purchased this product. She wrote: “You are asking ‘us’ to sell your product! So, who is the winner here? YOU!”
“Winner” is the key word to learn from in that phrase.
You see… for there to be a winner, there must be a loser. And if there is to be a winner and a loser, then a competition must be taking place. Often there is not except in one person’s mind.
And that kind of thinking CAN cause the person doing it to miss out on all kinds of opportunities that would benefit her or him.
For instance, in this scenario instead of this writer focusing on “what’s in it for me” (e.g. “I can save $197 and get these professional development materials at no cost”), she chose to focus on “what’s in it for her” (e.g. “if I refer 5 customers to her, she’ll make a profit.”). The focus is not on what the writer can do for herself but rather what she doesn’t want to see another person get.
Enter the green monster.
Who Is The Green Monster
The green monster refers to being “green with envy,” an old adage I didn’t create. The green monster is the trait envy. It associates with desire, greed, jealousy, resentment and spite. And the green monster rears its head all the time in the workplace and in life in general. This green monster is very subtle and can sneak up on you, ruining your job, career and life satisfaction before you know it. In fact, unless you consciously get to the root of your feelings and emotions when something disturbs you, the green monster may come and go unnoticed by you. That example above is just one example of the green monster passing through another unwary victim.
You’ve probably heard about the green monster before. For instance, ever heard the old saying about “keeping up with the Joneses.’” That’s implying that if your coworker or neighbor buys a new sports car, you have to go out and buy one. If he throws a party, you feel obligated to throw a bigger one. And so forth. That’s regardless of whether you need it, will use it or can even afford it. The green monster says you can’t have success and prestige if you don’t have what the Joneses have. The green monster says you can’t let the Joneses “win.” You either must not allow them to “win,” not help them to “win,” or you must excel beyond their latest venture or acquisition.
It bothers some people tremendously that others might have or get something they don’t or get something before they do. And they most certainly don’t want to help this to happen. Why? They think “if she wins, then I must be losing.” They think “if he’s successful, then I must not be.”
Is that logical? Absolutely not. But a lot of times you’re operating on emotion, not logic. That’s why you’re human. And that’s why the green monster can sneak up on you, even if you consider yourself the most logical, practical person around.
In the workplace you see the green monster all of the time. For instance, Jane gets a corner office or the window office. Joe didn’t think about this before but now that Jane got it, he wants one.
Executive Billy gets a new gadget. Executive Eve suddenly wants an upgrade of her gadget, even though she barely uses the gadget she has now.
Cindy gets promoted. Dean is upset. He thinks: “I’ve been here longer. I’m smarter. I work harder. I should be promoted too then.”
Carrie dresses fabulous. Mary tells Claire that Carrie must be paid more than her to be able to afford those stylish clothes and that she’s showing off. Never mind bothering to tell Carrie that she does indeed look fabulous today in that outfit.
Faith eats at nice restaurants every day at lunch. Sometimes she raves about how delicious her meal was to whoever is in listening range. Julie eats lunch brought from home at her desk. She thinks, “If they paid me what they must be paying her, I could enjoy top of the line meals too.” She momentarily forgets she’s on a diet and doesn’t want to eat those lavish meals anyway.
And of course, there is salary issues. I bet at least once you’ve heard a colleague say that person X makes more than her so she should get a raise now. But why? Where is the logic? If you want a salary increase, you have to quit focusing on that person and what they got that you didn’t and focus on you. Envy isn’t a good reason for a salary increase. And envy won’t improve your financial standing at work. You can’t get a raise simply because Sally makes more than you. That argument doesn’t fly with managers. You must be able to show why YOU deserve a salary increase based on your own achievements and contributions. IT’S NOT A COMPETITION. If you want to show emotion, along with your logic, for getting a raise, then make that emotion about you. For instance, show enthusiasm about your work, not envy about Sally’s new raise.
COLLABORATE FOR SUCCESS
Remember, just because someone wins doesn’t mean you lose and vice versa. No competition literally exists. Envy is in the mind.
And in fact, true success often happens through positive collaboration or joint efforts. For example, you talk to your boss about how to get a salary increase. He says you’ll need to take on substantially more responsibility. You then show your boss that you can take on 20% more responsibility in your job. He rewards you with a raise. Now you’re getting more work done in the department and you’re making him and his department look even more effective. Your boss may even get a raise or bonus.
Meanwhile, you’re now making more money, which helps you a lot personally. And it even motivates you on the job. You both win. This is a win-win situation, but don’t be fooled by the word “win” there — it’s still NOT a competition. Each person is happy: You’re happy for yourself and for your boss, but not envious of anyone. The green monster didn’t come to this event. You purposely and consciously did not invite him (or gave him the boot quickly if he did sneak in early on).
Learn how to collaborate to reach desired results. Team work and joint efforts often result in benefits to all participating parties. But envy can stop you in your tracks, making you aloof, angry and unhappy. You feel and exhibit those traits. Other people see them. They start sending less and less opportunities your way (they don’t want to partner with or work with one who harbors the green monster). You wonder why you’re not successful and satisfied (like Sally or Bob or whomever). You get depressed. And you never realize that you put this whole scenario in motion.
Bottom line: Be conscious of the green envy monster. It’ll zap your emotional energy and your morale. It’ll detract from focusing on and doing things that really can make you content, successful and satisfied at work, in your career and in your life. Don’t compete when you’re not in a competition. Don’t hold back your generosity or assistance simply because you’re afraid someone else will benefit by it more than you. This is distorted thinking that can affect your life and career poorly. If you do let the green monster in, take ownership. Admit you opened the door for him. Then give him the boot. The green monster is not there to help you.