Category Archives: Navigating Success

Is There A Jerk Waiting To Stop You On Your Path To Greater Success?

a well dressed man who looks like a jerkDo you ever feel frustrated that you’re not keeping up with or surpassing The Jones’? As a successful person, you know that every second counts and time is money. Anything less than what you expect is costly.


You loathe time wasting and people who don’t meet your expectations. That’s normal when you’ve got your eye on a prize and it feels like people are getting in your way and slowing you down. Why can’t they be as focused and driven as you?


The truth is, The Jones Chasers of the world don’t realize, the jerk getting in their way of happiness, surpassing the Jones’ and hiding in their blind spot, could be themselves.


It’s the in between stages of wealth and success where the jerk can often emerge. When you feel like you’ve made it well above and beyond where you started, but not quite locked in to that position where you feel safe. Better yet, better than.


That fear of losing it all and sliding backward can feel like that last sprint of determinaton and focus to get you past the finish line, while your competition is right on your heels. When you feel like you’re in beast mode. Well, maybe you are and that’s not always a good thing.


As the writer came to the realization in this Fast Company article, Why Not Being a Jerk is Important to Your Happiness and Success, we need to step back from our wild ambition often, to appreciate where we are. We need to appreciate where others are on their journey as well. No need to worry, gratitude will not stop your momentum.


The Uber driver wasn’t trying to destroy your success and drag you down to his income level because he didn’t run the red light. The new employee trying to navigate your wild and unclear ambition isn’t incompetent and trying to destroy your business.  Most likely, it’s the complete opposite.


In my decades of working and playing with the ultra-rich, the homeless, and everything in between, I’ve learned that The Jones’ are an every moving target and there will always be someone who doesn’t care how much success or money you have.


Remember when you were in the position of the person you’re being impatient with, blaming for something out of their control, or just plain being a jerk. Be thankful that they are there, doing the best they can and most likely, whishing you would just say “thank you, I appreciate you doing the best you can.”


It’s easy to make a boat load of money being a jerk. To do it with elegance and grace is what takes strength and skill.


If you want to know if you’re being a jerk, feel free to ask me. I’m not afraid to tell you the truth.


Successful People Don’t Wear Someone Else’s Shoes

business man on beach walking away from his shoes

What’s wrong with success checklists?

How many lists of  ‘how successful people ______’ (fill in the blank) have you read? If you search the internet for “how successful people” in 2015 you would have found 409,000 results and today, in 2019, you will find “About 1,100,000,000 results (0.43 seconds)” . Fill in the blanks with anything from brushing their teeth to where they part their hair and what kind of shoes they wear.

If you think about it, these lists set the rest of the success seeking world up for failure, negative self-talk and low self-esteem. It also sets such high expectations for the ‘successful’ to live up to.

To find successful people that are a mashup of all of these lists  would be as easy to find as the Loch Ness Monster.

If you’re already successful, what do you think when you read these lists? Sure, some of your do’s and don’ts may match, some you may be working on, but do you feel you could put a checkmark next to all  those ‘what successful people do and don’t do‘?

What list you need to subscribe to?

Successful people are human.  We each have our own quirks and flaws. We are not perfect, we are messy in our own way. What we all have in common is this; we became successful because of and in spite of the roles we played in navigating our journey.

Those who continue to stay successful have more times than not, adjusted their behaviors, habits, and roles along the way.

We can both teach and learn from others, take tips, model certain procedures and behaviors, follow a map, however, the map is not the territory or the climate.

We need to realize, we are all a bit different, we all wear different shoes on our path to success. You can imagine being in someone else’s shoes, however,  we all need to navigate through the ups and downs in your own.

The most important checklist is:

  1. Know how to choose the best fit for you
  2. Know which you need to conquer the territory of the day or moment
  3. Know when the time is right to get a different size
  4. Admit if they start to stink and replace them
  5. Never borrow someone else’s shoes, you don’t know where they’ve been


Does Success Require Being Pretentious?

How often do you find yourself feeling like you need to be polite and spend time interacting with people you really don’t care to be around? Perhaps they make you uncomfortable or maybe they have personality traits you find offensive or toxic.

Given the choice, you would probably never speak to a certain person or group of people again….. but, it’s part of business, family or forced social connections, so you have to.

After all, you wouldn’t want to insult someone by choosing not to have them in your personal or business ecosystems, would you? There could be considerable backlash from people who play certain unfavorable roles if you did choose to eliminate the contact. Am I getting close?

In the business world, it’s a widely held belief that our network is our net worth. What then, does it say about your ‘net worth’  if, deep down inside, you don’t like some or even most of the people in your network?

There came a time when I asked myself that very question. The answer to my own reflection was this; I was behaving no different than the shallow, pretentious and toxic people in my life, that I didn’t want in my life.

If I really didn’t want them in my life, wasn’t I being just as fake and toxic as they were by keeping them around and ‘playing nice’? I was in a position where I felt forced to play nice and tolerate people because that’s what successful people have to do.

It comes with the territory, at least, that’s what I was taught. I must admit,  I never did master holding my tongue when someone was extremely out of line and disrespectful. It took something serious for me to speak up, that’s not being very authentic. Did I ever let people know what I really thought? How I really felt? Who I really was? What I felt was truly important? Rarely, if ever.

That’s when I realized my definition of success does not include:

  1. being painfully uncomfortable with the people in my business/life
  2. spending valuable time with people I find highly toxic and revolting
  3. being pretentious and shallow
  4. suffocating rules dictated by a group, class, institution or gender
  5. faking my smile
  6. selling something I don’t believe in
  7. faking my belief system/values

If I came to be successful through pretension, if I have to be someone I’m not, I’m not really successful! I’m a slave to the pretension of success!

I felt the success was a fraud and so was I.  That’s when I decided to redefine what it means to be successful and the way I would navigate my new path and version of success.

[This pretentious blind spot can be one of the many contributions to being successful and unhappy, instead of successful and satisfied.]

One of the widely held beliefs in the business and personal world is the need to be, what equates to, pretentious. Pretentiousness is veiled in networking, social etiquette and growing a sphere of influence, justifying it with the belief that’s the way to build relationships, influence, and success. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the difference in genuine relationships and the real meaning of success.

We all have our own unique meaning of success, however, I’ve never heard anyone define success as “spending time with people I don’t like and trying really hard to impress people”.

If I discover a person I’m connected with in some way, displays toxic behavior, I choose not to allow them into my ecosystem, my circle or sphere of influence. That does make a lot of people with toxic personalities a lot more toxic and angry, it may even cause them to plant little toxic seeds out in the world about me, yet, I no longer engage with trying to clean up the mess they create. I do not engage with toxic people and their behavior. That’s not in my definition of success. My new success is based on authenticity.

I may slip up once in a while and bend to the expectation or fear of not being accepted, but then, I go right back to my new rules of engagement. I realize I have a choice in how I live my life and who I spend my time with.

I’ve been told many times, that kind of success is unobtainable; I need to lower my standards. I choose not to believe that as truth.

As long as I know my achievements, connections, relationships, and smile are authentic and genuine, I am successful. When I can spend my time with people I enjoy, people I trust, people I like, I am successful. When I wake up every day, doing what I love and making a positive impact for the money I earn, I’m successful. If I know my successes and accomplishments didn’t come from sacrificing my authenticity, I’m a success!

So, the answer to the original question; NO, I don’t believe success requires pretension. Pretension to me is failure.

About the Author: 

Tamara is an international leader in human and business performance. Developing high functioning navigational skills in rapidly changing and volatile environments, working with high functioning individuals looking to grow into more meaningful success and leadership roles in their unique situations. Whether leading a growing business of 1,000 or leading their individual lives, she helps them Show Up Strong® in every situation. Their businesses and personal lives gain in the quality of their strengths, growth, and impact.