The Burden of Animosity

May 24, 2012 in Briefs

It is a burden to hate your enemies. It takes energy, sometimes a great deal of it. Hate (as well as envy, its little sister) distracts you from other, more productive endeavors. And it eventually consumes the best part of your self.

This is true in all aspects of life but is perhaps least forgivable in business. Business decisions should be rational. They should be somewhat intuitive but not encumbered by prejudices or other negative emotions.

I know businesspeople whose careers have been greatly hampered by envy and/or hate. RP and SA are two examples. They seem to spend half their creative time tracking the activities of competitors whose success they resent. They are always hoping to find evidence of wrongdoing or weakness or failure. I can’t help but think that if they spent the same time and energy improving their own products and promotions, they would be much richer men.

For the most part, envy and hate are self-destructive. But they can be very effective motivators. Read the biography of almost any successful person and you will find at least some evidence that they were, at one time or another, motivated by a negative emotion. If, for example, you read Arnold and Me (by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first American girlfriend), you will understand how much Arnold’s amazing accomplishments were fueled by his childhood impression that he was the least favorite son and needed to “prove” himself.

You can’t erase the envy, resentment, or other base feelings you may have had in the past. If they have motivated you to be successful, you can be thankful for that. But if you want to have a happy life, to prevent them from eventually eating you up, you must find a way to stop hating the people you associate with them.

Find a way to forgive them or, as Jesus recommends, to love them. As Nietzsche said, “learning from one’s enemies is the best way to love them, for it puts one into a grateful mood toward them.”

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