The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

The Green-Eyed Monster and You

Be brave! Take a hard look at your career.

Don’t have a lot to be thankful for, do you? You also don’t have a lot to hope for, unless it’s your beautiful, childlike dream that a meteor hits the earth, unleashing a zombie attack, decimating your management team, and leaving you in charge.

Hey, it could happen.

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If there’s nothing that can make you thankful or hopeful, there is still one emotion available to you — jealousy. When you consider how much better everyone else at work is doing, jealousy is really all you have to cling to. (Not counting the zombie invasion stuff.)

To most people, jealousy is not an attractive attribute, but as you will be surprised and happy to learn, jealousy in the work environment can be a real motivator.

I’m proof positive. This beautiful childlike column would never have been written if I wasn’t totally jealous of Kat Boogaard, a contributor to the job site, The Muse. I’ve always been a little envious of Kat for the double, double vowels in her name, but my jealousy went off the charts when I read a recent posting, “Here’s How You Can Use Your Jealousy to Propel Your Own Career Forward.”

“It’s expected that you’ll turn a little green with envy, each time someone else reaches an achievement you’ve been working for yourself,” Boogaard writes, “It can serve as a distraction that only slows you down. That is, unless you harness it to give yourself a much-needed kick in the pants.”

Ready to get harnessed up? According to Boogaard, there are three times when jealousy can turn a kick in the head to a kick in the pants.

The number one reason to be jealous is if someone gets promoted, and you don’t.

“Sure, you respond to that office-wide email thread with a hearty, ‘Congratulations, Ashley!’ and gladly indulge in a piece of that celebratory cake in the break room,” our author writes before going off the rails completely, and suggesting that you are consumed by jealousy as you “pack up that leftover cake and stick it in the fridge.”

As we both know, the only place you’ll stick that leftover cake is in your bottom desk drawer, so it’s always available when your bad luck at work requires a buttercream icing treatment at the Betty Crocker clinic. Which will solve your jealousy attack and give you a gout attack, unless you put down your fork and start “analyzing the situation to determine what steps you’ll need to take to reach that same milestone.”

Boogaard suggests you use your jealous reaction to understand and emulate Ashley’s penchant for hard work. Or course, we both know that working harder on your job is nothing you’re ever going to do, but you could use your jealousy as motivation to work harder on digging up new dirt to spread evil gossip about Ashley. She deserves it!

Just be sure to finish the cake first. Let’s not go crazy here.

Or maybe you should.

Hearing a colleague receive praise is the second occasion to put your jealousy to work. Instead of scorning or shunning the person, like you usually do, make an effort to become their bestie.

“Resist the urge to go head-to-head with this person,” writes Boogaard. “That type of passive-aggressive approach will only breed tension, and likely only make you look a little on the crazy side.”

I totally disagree. Showing your jealousy through passive-aggressive — or aggressive-aggressive — behavior is the most normal reaction your co-workers will ever see from you. And from someone who is a lot on the crazy side, being a little on the crazy side is a real improvement.

The third and final jealousy-provoking situation is “when your co-worker lands a big project.” The strategy recommended here is to “drop those feelings of resentment, step up to the plate and offer to take on some additional work.”

Good strategy. Your co-worker will appreciate the help, seeing how busy and important he has become, and probably won’t ever imagine that you’ve totally scammed him until the big deadline for the big project arrives and your contribution doesn’t.

By crashing the big project, you can step in and volunteer to turn it around quickly, which can certainly do since you’ve got “get it done” Ashley in the palm of your hand. Then you’ll get the praise, and you’ll get the promotion. And then, my friend, something amazing will happen — everyone will be jealous of you.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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