“The nail that sticks out farthest gets hammered the hardest.”
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Everyone has tasted Haterade.
There are three types of people in the world: haters, recovering haters, and people that used to be haters. The easiest way to spot a liar is ask him if he’s ever told a lie. If he says “no”, he’s a liar. The second easiest way to identify a liar is to ask him if he’s ever hated on someone. If he says “no”, he’s a liar. Whether it was done by scuttlebutting or sandbagging, everyone has tried to hold someone else back in life. We have all took it upon ourselves to cut someone else down to size at one time or another. This is especially true very early in life and between those closest to you. On every playground around the world, kids are trying to keep other kids from breaking away from the herd. In homes all over the country, brothers and sisters are trying keep each other from standing out. Sibling rivalry can start as early as 1 or 2 years old. Some people never grow out of this kind of behavior. These people are haters.
Tall Poppy Syndrome
When I went to Australia last year, I picked up on several different slang words and phrases that are not used in the United States. My favorite of which was the phrase, “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. This phrase describes a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers. In other words, Tall Poppy Syndrome equals Haterade. Like Haterade, Tall Poppy Syndrome is driven by one thing: the inferiority complex. The inferiority complex is a persistent sense of inadequacy arising from the conflict between the desire to be noticed and the fear of being humiliated. This complex is characterized by an excessive need to exert one’s significance over other people. Haters accomplish this by bringing other people down instead of working to raise themselves up. Understand: haters have an intense desire to be noticed. The problem is that they are deathly afraid of being vulnerable. Haters would rather hate from the safety of the herd than step away and risk humiliation. They would rather prevent you from developing as leader than develop leadership skills themselves.
Everyone has an inferiority complex. No matter how confident you are, there will be times when you feel inferior. These feelings of inferiority are tied to our natural insecurities about whether or not our individual lives carry any significance. The key is to determine your own significance. And the best way to do this is to pick your own purpose of living and to align your life around this purpose. We all desire greatness is some area of our lives. We were all meant to develop leadership skills and achieve mastery. We were all meant to be noticed. This means that we all struggle internally with two things: standing out and being crushed. The difference between haters and bringers is that haters try to stand out by pushing everyone one else down while bringers stand out by breaking away from the herd and helping others do the same. Haters focus on holding their rivals back. Bringers focus on achieving their goals. Haters hide their insecurities behind rigid walls of false confidence and defensiveness. Bringers expose their insecurities, using them to influence motivation and fuel action. Haters are manipulative. Bringers are authentic, walking the fine line between true confidence and vulnerability.
Confessions Of A Hater
I used to be a hater. After graduating from high school in Spokane Valley, WA, I traveled 3,000 miles away to attend Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. The students I went to school with were from big cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. I grew up in rural towns like Sandpoint, Idaho and Burns, Oregon. The East coast culture was very different. It was much more cut throat and competitive. Nowhere was this more apparent than on F&M’s wrestling team. My first year on the team, I was annihilated in every way imaginable. I was beat up during practice and mocked by other wrestlers before and after practice. The problem was I didn’t know how to identify with anyone on the team. Most of them grew up in Pennsylvania, New York, or New Jersey. We had nothing in common except for wrestling. And, to make matters worse, I worked hard to stand out and develop leadership skills. This made the haters circle.
My problems peaked in 2001. That spring, F&M’s head coach selected me to wrestle in the NWCA All-Star Wrestling Classic. This included a chance to be Dan Gable’s wrestling partner during the NWCA Wrestling Clinic the week before. Dan Gable is a legend in the world of wrestling and has been called “Sports Figure of the Century” by Sports Illustrated. He had a 182-1 prep and college record, and won the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics without surrendering a single point. Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Body quipped, “this is the equivalent of winning Wimbledon on serves alone.” In other words, it was like shooting free throws with Michael Jordan. The herd was not happy. I spent the remainder of the season isolated and ridiculed.
I adapted. After my first year at F&M, I came back determined to fit in, no matter what it cost my character or personality. I became the best hater I could be. I learned how to pick apart people in seconds. I mastered the art of delicately reducing other people’s accomplishments to rubble. I did my part to prevent other people from standing out and developing as a leader. The herd was happy. After a while though, I found that the only person I was really bringing down was myself. Hating on other people was severely limiting my potential. Understand: the side effects of drinking Haterade are unhappiness, unfulfillment, and failure. By the time I graduated from F&M, I made a decision to never keep other people from standing out. Over the last several years, I’ve turned this decision into a conviction to help as many other people stand out and develop leadership skills as possible.
Getting In A Hater’s Head
Haterade is elusive. The most overlooked trait of a hater is his or her ability to crush you dreams and destroy your enthusiasm without you knowing it. Haters operate as a sort of destructive fog, suffocating your ambition and obscuring your focus. Haters are vague, indeterminate, and enigmatic. They stand for nothing, which gives them the freedom to tear down anything. Most often, the effects of a hater in your life can’t be seen until it’s too late. Like a poisonous gas, once you sniff them out, the damage has been done. Now more than ever, it’s important to learn how to deal with haters. The problem is, haters and people who negatively influence motivation have gone underground. Instead of competing with you directly, they slyly hold you back. They do this by talking shit behind your back, playfully mocking your purpose in life, keeping you dependent on them, manipulating your emotions and internal influences, playing the victim, making you feel guilty, and distracting you from achieving your goal.
Direct competition is a blessing. Open competition towards a shared goal can bring out the best in people. It’s what happens in the shadows that will crush your positive attitude and erode your productivity. The underground nature of Haterade makes it almost impossible to confront openly. Calling out a hater emotionally is never a good idea. Doing so will merely result in an aloof rebuttal that covertly challenges your confidence and sensitivity. It is better to become a student of Haterade. By studying the haters in your life, you can get a visceral feel for how they think. This will teach you how to use, deflect, misdirect, or avoid the haters in your life. Only by seeing the world through a hater’s eyes can you learn how to keep them from holding you back and bringing you down.
My next post will begin a satirical series in which I will assume the role a hater writing this blog to help other people be haters. Consider this a form of method acting. Sometimes the best way to define something is to define its opposite. Writing with reverse intent is a great way to do this. Other reverse intent works include the Screwtape Letters, and How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. These posts will put you inside a hater’s head, showing you how to deal with haters without becoming one yourself.