How Successful People Rise Above Gossip

Pablo Picasso once said: "People who can’t stand the success of others will never experience their own.”
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Are there untrue rumours circulating about you? Are you unsure whether you should laugh or cry? Are you full of questions and unable to concentrate on your work, you goals, your joys?

Why are people doing this? This is the first thing you ask yourself.

Today, we have something for you.

When Pablo Picasso died in 1973, doubts began to arise about the authorship of his works. It seemed impossible to people that he could have created twenty thousand artistic gems.  “It’s just impossible!”, people said. They were right, they would be able to never manage such a feat – they’re too busy gossiping about others.

In 1991, the 200th anniversary of the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, there was speculation as to whether or not he could have composed all his compositions alone. He lived just 35 years, but despite this, over six hundred pieces, including forty symphonies, are attributed to him – meaning he would have to have composed more than one symphony every year of his life starting at birth.

People who find it difficult to realise their dreams are often bothered when others are able to successfully realise their own. They judge the situation according to their own capabilities: if I’m not able to do it, others aren’t either. This is the basis of people’s gossip – small-mindedness.

Do people say bad things about you without there being any reason for it? Do you encounter slander, grudges, resentment, and feel that you can stand it no longer? Do you keep on defending yourself to negative people, trying to persuade them of something they won’t believe anyway, because it could destroy their imagined truth and also the only thing they have to cling to in order to endure their own life’s failure?

I know something about this topic. I have been learning from successful people since I was young. Nobody else has more experience with gossip than they do. You really have to earn envy.

“Whenever opinion rules that I am doing something wrong, I tell myself that I am doing something wrong.” Demosthenes

He stuttered, lisped, and spoke in fits and starts. Despite this, Demosthenes (384 to 322 B.C.) resolved to be an Athenian orator. He was the laughing stock of Athens. However, he began to work on himself,  eagerly learning correct delivery and pronunciation.

He timed his phrasing to fit his pace when climbing a hill. He tried to out-scream the waves. He spoke with his mouth full of pebbles. Slowly he began to improve, which was a disaster for those who had laughed at him. They began to hate him. They claimed that it couldn’t be him speaking, but his double. They said that someone had to be standing behind him, speaking for him, while Demosthenes simply moved his lips along with the words. They couldn’t forgive the fact that he had actually become the author of some of the most famous Athenian speeches.

However, forty years after his death the people of Athens – or at least those who were capable of admiration – had a bronze statue made in honour of Demosthenes. A beautiful inscription was carved into the pedestal: “If you, Demosthenes, had had physical strength equal to your mental strength, the Macedonians would never have conquered the Hellenic lands.”

“I know only one effective reaction to unjust criticism. Not to say or do anything, because the criticism means nothing.” Tomas Baťa

He began as a fourteen-year-old cobbler who had lost his job. He returned to his father, also a cobbler, but they fell out with one another. He went to live with his sister who helped him to set up a large workshop. However, the workshop ended up going bankrupt, and moreover Baťa had been operating without an official licence. The boy was deep in debt.

30 years later, Baťa controlled more than half of Czechoslovak exports. For some people this might seem like two unrelated stories. The company can’t possibly belong to that unsuccessful “boy”?!

During his development, Tomáš Baťa frequently faced contempt, discouragement, and attacks. However, he also learned how to concentrate on positive actions, never reacting negatively. “Rather than getting in a bad mood, I concentrated on other things, solving problems that had piled up in the meantime.”

Indians from the Cree tribe say that a man is like a boat on the open sea. The boat does not sink due to the water all around it, but due to the water that leaks into the boat. “Not even all the oceans in the world can sink a boat if no water gets inside.”  We should remember that.

“Other people aren’t as interested in us as we may think.” Angelina Jolie

She was married to a man who many women envied her for. Brad Pitt was rich, handsome, and in demand. “Nobody can imagine just how much hatred lies in people and how awful it is when they unite against you,” said Angelina Jolie, who always tried to convince people that she was not dependent on Brad. In addition to acting, she began directing; she showed what a big heart she had when she decided to adopt children, but none of this was enough for the public. “My state of health was getting worse and worse. In reality I was destroying myself – because I thought that what people think was so important.”

She had both breasts removed, and out of fear of developing cancer she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well.  It is paradoxical what Angelina realised: “It seemed to me that everyone was talking just about me. It really helped me when I turned up my collar, put on a cap to hide my eyes and went out into the real world among people. I stood for a long time in a busy square and nobody was talking about me. They were all just talking about themselves. So it occurred to me then that when people talk about me, they aren’t doing it because of me, but because of them. They do not want to hurt me, but to relieve themselves of pain and complexes.”

“I am like a stone to praise and criticism.” Don Miguel Ruíz

The author of The Four Agreements often said that we are like actors playing ourselves in the main role of an imaginary film that we are living. People all around the world are the same. “That’s why we should never take anything personally.  What people say, they say due to their own needs and inner pressure. They are just coming to terms with the world around them.”

It is a little-known fact that, at the age of 50, this Mexican writer had a massive heart attack and spent nine weeks in a coma. For the next 8 years he suffered terrible pains. And the reason? He believes that he had always taken the words of others personally. “I learnt my lesson. Today, if anyone judges or appraises me I turn into a stone.” What does Don Miguel Ruíz mean by this? “Praise a stone, criticise a stone, and not one thing changes in the stone. Whether you think well or badly about the stone, it is just your own projection. I know that it warms the heart to hear praise, as it freezes the heart to hear abuse, but that is just the energy that comes out of the mouths of those speaking the words, not from the stone.”

I present the thoughts of people with a positive approach to life. They agree on three basic premises:

  1. Worry less about what others think of you and more about what you think of yourself.
  2. Live your life according to your wishes, not those of others. If you decide to live as you want, you can be happy. If you live according to others, you will never be happy because it is impossible to please everyone.
  3. Listen to people with positive energy, people who are internally balanced and supportive. Don’t worry about what others say. However do worry who to admire, who to devote your attention and energy to.

At any moment, someone may slander you in any way. You can’t prevent this. If people can’t control their negative energy, they aren’t in control of their emotions, but rather their emotions are in control of them. There is no need to fight against them. They are fighting with themselves.

You can’t beat them, because they have already lost.

Try not to be as unhappy as they are. Don’t have the same negative reactions. Negative actions cannot bring about positive results.

It is much better to continue with positive steps in the original direction. Like a boat with great waves smashing into the hull which nevertheless carries on sailing. Remember: We are all like the boat. It doesn’t matter that we can never influence where the wind is blowing from, or if it is even blowing. We can always trim our sails so the wind does not hold us up, but instead moves us forward.

© Petr Casanova