After spending months, or even years working your ass off on something, you are going to be very excited to share your hard work with the world – and rightfully so!
As a new creator, one of the hardest things to wrap your head around when this time comes will be that support for your new-found success will not be come from people you might expect it to come from.
To better understand why this happens, there are a couple of terms that are common in Australia but also very much apply to the evolution of a business, or success that you might be starting to be recognized for. They might be almost the opposite in meaning, but at a certain point you will switch from one into the other. These terms are the underdog, and the tall poppy.
If there’s one thing that Australians love it’s an underdog. When you are getting started with a new project you are going to dream big and set very ambitious goals, because if you’re not – then you’re not really doing it properly.
When you’re telling your friends about these goals they seem like such a far reach that it’s going to take a real fight to achieve them, and they will get behind you. They will tell people about what you are working, share pieces of information across social networks and ask how everything is going on a regular basis.
This is exactly what you would hope that your friends would be doing, and it does really help you to get yourself established and spread the word about what you are working on, but sadly is don’t always last.
There is a point at which those crazy goals that you set yourself when you were starting out aren’t looking so crazy anymore, and there’s a real possibility that you are going to be successful at what you are doing.
At this point you switch from being in underdog mode, to taking on tall poppy syndrome.
Tall Poppy Syndrome
More prominent with Australian culture than anywhere else in the world, tall poppy syndrome occurs when someone starts to succeed at what they are doing and move above their friends and peers. Once this happens these ‘friends and peers’ look to bring this person or group back down to their level via removing all support that was previously there and sprouting negative behavior towards them instead.
One very common example of this is in the Australian music industry. Bands from Australia don’t like to get too big, they want to get to a point where they are doing well, but not too big. If they do surpass this ‘too big’ mark, that’s when they are instantly dubbed sell-outs rather than being praised for reaping the rewards of all the hard work that they have been putting in for many years beforehand.
The exact same principle applies in the business, and more specifically career world. When you are that new small project just trying to keep your head above water and get some momentum happening, everyone is there to support you, However, once you turn the corner and start to really make some big strides in positive direction that support group starts to shrink
This can be one of the toughest things to deal with, especially is you have never dealt with it before. Understanding that not everyone will always you support you is the key, but at the same time this opens the door to improve yourself.
If the 5 people you spend the most time with have the biggest impact on your life, don’t you want those 5 people to be always supporting, motivating, and driving you to achieve more?
Support will come from those you don’t expect
So, you’re not getting the support that you were once getting from your friends, that’s ok; there will be plenty of other people coming into your life or stepping up to show their support, and even though the number might have thinned right out, there are people that will always stick by you and support you no matter what happens! (Hi Mum!)
Do it for you!
When it comes down to it though, if you are doing anything with the gain of making anyone other than yourself happy by doing it – then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. This is your project, business, career and ultimately life. Who cares what people think of you and what you are doing. If it makes you happy, DO IT!
Personally, I have been through multiple iterations of this process now as I have started businesses, advanced my career and done some crazy things that I’d never expected to be doing. The first time is the hardest because you don’t understand why people stop supporting you. This is the reason I wanted to write this blog post.
If you are doing something that is out of the normal, and succeeding at doing it – it’s inevitable that tall poppy syndrome, and ultimately jealousy is going to be a factor in the way that people treat you. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked to get to where you, people don’t want to see you rising above the pack and doing something that they wish they could be doing.
Always remember to keep pushing to improve what you are doing, people come and go with time and you will find that sometimes it’s the people that you least expect that end up being your biggest supporters.
If you have any questions about being an underdog or a tall poppy, feel free to shoot me a message on Twitter, and I’d be happy to talk to you about it more!