“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”
Mark Twain (1835–1910) American writer
I love Mark Twain. He was just an amazing observer of the human condition. That said, why do we get so annoyed by a good example? For starters that good example, points out our own shortcomings. Speaking for myself, and being blessed with so many of those shortcomings – earlier on in life, I feel like I have some expertise on the topic.
It is all in the framing of the idea, do I want to ss this through a negative filter or a positive one? We can view annoyance at the good example of others, as an illustration of our shortcomings, as many of us so often do. Or we can view these as opportunities for growth. This is life’s way of showing us where we need sandpaper to smooth an edge. Identifying someone else’s example as a goal to emulate feels different than being jealous that they are better at something or other than we are. And that really is the heart of it, isn’t it? When I am annoyed at someone else’s good example, I am not only measuring myself against that person, I am doing that in a negative way, it saps energy, makes me feel bad, and if I am truthful about it creates some resentment. None of this is positive, productive or emotionally healthy.
The trick is to convert my mindset to one of growth. Actively looking for those good examples because they illustrate my desires and help me focus on what I want to be. If I can realign my focus from the more negative annoyance to one of positive growth oriented appreciation, then I have created the possibility that I can change in a way that I think is desireable. It is work, and for every step forward there is the occasional step backward. But what do you have to lose by reframing your perspective? Not Much!
What could you do…If you could?