Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tall poppy syndrome

A mate of mine was criticized for taking initiative and doing something he thought would be good for ‘the greater good’ of a group. It was a relative small thing but I have heard this before. How come initiatives are often batted down? Why does your work get critiqued? Did you ask for censoring? What gives someone the right to do so? I have that happen to myself now and again and find it really stupid actually. I mean, if it’s a fair reasonable comment, ok. But the winging? Get over it already!

I know why I can get into tantrums for being refused to do something fun that I think is an awesome idea. It has to do with being the baby sister and having to compete with the big bros. (Literally as I have 2 big brothers.) Of course I got over the competitive thing as we’re all different anyway, but the urge to make the most of myself has always stayed. I have felt that my whole professional life I wanted to become a great success like them as my whole family has been an inspiration. The chances of me being a slob are remote as my genes are against me. With the whole family being driven bright talented individuals I’m not going to exactly sit down and start knitting. No offence.

Getting back to the Poppy.

Seriously it is a problem here: Wikipedia says the following:
"Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) is a
pejorative term used in Australia, Canada[citation needed], and New Zealand to describe what is seen as a leveling social attitude. Someone is said to be a target of tall poppy syndrome when his or her assumption of a higher economic, social, or political position is criticized as being presumptuous, attention seeking, or without merit. Alternatively, it is seen as a societal phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are criticized or resented because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers."

So there you go, a down under illness. Brilliant. Aaaahhhhhhh. Can I say a very down under thing? “Bloody stupid” There! That’s what I think of this. (Okay okay settle down already. I heard yesterday that meditation is JUST the thing) Fortunately the Australian prime minister was quoted responding in a similar manner: they want to do away with the poppy as a syndrome as well in Aboriginal County.

Exploring this further, how can one beat the Tall Poppy Syndrome?

This is what Kiwis say themselves:
"Tall poppies are people who stand out from the crowd. They aren't afraid to be different from everyone else and because of this often become incredibly successful. In New Zealand we have an annoying habit of feeling threatened by these people and to make ourselves feel better, we do whatever we can to cut them down to size.

We can be incredibly well-meaning about this – saying things like "they need to come back to earth", "their heads are getting too big", "It’s for their own good". Failing that, we just spread wild, untrue, unnecessary and unfair rumours about them. Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well all through New Zealand's society. You won’t have to look too far to see it in:
Sports, Arts, Schools, Workplaces, Politics and pretty much anywhere you find people!

Example of a Tall Poppy: Joanne K. Rowling's story
Unless you’ve been living in a cave you will have heard of Joanne Rowling and her books about Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s story is an incredible story of determination and persistence. Her mother died very young – at 45 and Joanne took this very hard. She moved to Portugal, where she met a journalist, married him and had a daughter. Sadly, one year later the marriage ended and she moved to Edinburgh to be nearer to family. As a single parent, she really struggled with very little money. She was unemployed, with a baby, living in a one bedroom flat. She got income support of the equivalent of $NZ150 per week, which meant that Joanne had to be extremely careful with her money – at times she would skimp on meals for herself.

She often wrote in cafés with her baby asleep in the pushchair – a cup of coffee was cheaper than heating her flat and they could both keep warm while she wrote. She wrote her first book on notepaper, and then had to go home to type the notes on a cheap old typewriter. She had to type multiple copies because she couldn’t afford to photocopy them. She struggled with depression on and off, but even managed to turn those episodes into positives by using them as inspiration for some of her characters. To make ends meet she started working as a French teacher and then managed to get a Scottish Arts Council grant giving her enough money to finish writing her first book.

Once she had finished the book she sent the first 3 chapters to an agent, who promptly sent them back (I bet he or she regrets that day!). After being rejected in her first attempt, she tried another agent who agreed to act for her. It took a year for her agent to find someone who would publish it. By the summer of 2000 she had earned over $USD400 Million for her first 3 Harry Potter books! Her book “Harry Potter and the Half Blooded Prince” sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours! Her story is hugely inspirational, all the way down to overcoming the Tall Poppy Syndrome. She has had a 2-year court battle to defend the fact that the stories were not stolen and were her own.

While struggling, there was no way for JK Rowling to know that what she was writing would ever be a success – how many times do we hear about endless rejections of manuscripts, and how many books have never and will never be published. She battled poverty, depression and rejection and won. She had the dream, the determination and the self-belief to push through adversity and setbacks that would have stopped most people very early on. These are the people who feel threatened by her success.
What can we learn from her journey?”
Source above text:

My mate concludes with: "Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticised anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't." – Eleanor Roosevelt
I think it’s safe to say the following:

“Just do it” covers it nicely. Long live Nike and stubborn people! Lead by example and forgive the ignorant for they do not know any better. If we didn’t do what’s in our hearts and have fun, then by crikey WHAT exactly are we doing here at all? Why would we envy others for their achievements? I honestly NEVER got that. I celebrate others in growing, why would that EVER affect me badly? Such nonsense.

Bless anyone for kindling their own light and ‘sticking with it’. Next time you meet a tall poppy, give them a hug, do a high five or say Yeah! very loudly. if we are to be distinguished from other humans because we achieve our goals, let us celebrate this, instead being muffled in a corner where it's dusty and one has to sneeze. And besides, wouldn't you agree it's SO boring these nondecript corners? Why would it be nice to be stuck THERE?

1 comment:

  1. hey, am I the only one who keeps looking for corners in a rotund room ?

    that will be fun, get the bubbly's !