Gabberissue #7: Jealousy
By Siobhan Fitzgerald
Gif by Jesse Birthisel
You see an amazing piece of work: you feel admiration and envy. You see an amazing piece of work done by a peer: you feel admiration, jealousy, and a bit shit.
Jealousy is a driving force in the advertising industry. It’s at the crux of awards shows and it’s behind the brutal assessments we give of each other’s work in anonymous online forums.
In most agencies teams are pitted against each other, and we are all aware of the ‘hot or not’ creative hierarchy of agencies and where our own sits within it. Jealousy is the natural consequence of all this competition.
But it’s not just us being bitten by the green monster. Professional jealousy is universal says a study published in the Harvard Business review, and it hits harder when those who inspire your jealousy are known to you. Psychologist Abraham Tesser: “People are indeed unhappier when a close friend succeeds in a personally relevant domain than when a stranger does. Strangers are an abstraction, and their achievements are merely statistics. The successes of your close friends are vivid and seem attainable to you, too.”
Sound familiar? We work in a small and competitive industry in which our output is highly visible.
It can be an uphill battle to get through our greatest ideas and show off our best creative selves.
It’s hard not to constantly compare ourselves to our peers, but it can help to understand that we’re not alone in feeling all the feels when congratulating a colleague on their idea getting up over ours.
It’s best to use jealousy to fuel your fire rather than burn you up inside. In this month’s Team Talk With Collective CD Nicole Hetherington talks about how jealously propels her into working harder, while partner Simon Fowler shares how his envy of Nicole’s skills has challenged him to strengthen his own.
So how do you, like Simon and Nicole, turn your negative feelings of jealousy into positive ones, and perhaps even befriend the green monster?
We all have our different ways of coping, and in this month’s Gabberish junior creative Daniel Borghesi has selflessly shared his own personal toolkit of Coping Mechanism Mechanisms. Art director Bronte Wilson reflects on how Dolly Parton used jealousy to propel her career forward with smash-hit ‘Jolene’, a reminder that being in touch with our feelings (I think in advertising we call them “human insights”) can help us create compelling work. And writer Tessa Midgley reflects on all the different shades of green you can turn in The 6 shades of envy.
Which begs the question: what shade of green do we think prompts the anonymous trade mag comments that can make our industry seem so bitter? We might gain some insight from the brilliant Morally Superior Adventures of Old CD Guy.
Certainly Matt Eastwood, formerly Global CCO of JWT and this month’s Gift of the Gabberer, felt the burn of anonymous jealous remarks when he returned to Australia in 2006 following a highly successful stint overseas. It’s inspiring to read how Matt breaks down insecurities in his own departments to create an even playing field devoid of the dreaded “cool kids and not cool kids” divide.
How good would it be to know that we all have it in us to be great, if we are just passionate enough about it.
And isn’t that just it? Sure, talent plays a role in making great work, and skills in craft, presentation and negotiation help us get it over the line. But the people who seem to make the best work—the people who we are most jealous of—genuinely work really goddam hard at what they do.
And it’s within all of us to do that, if we want to. If we don’t, that’s ok too. After all it’s only advertising—and a life full-lived is something to worth envying, too.