Curb Your Jealousy
The Four Seasons’ Alex von Bidder explains
Could we sit in Bobby’s section with your siblings for your parents’ love. Your
tonight?” asks Joe, as he envelops lack of attention from a parent now plays out
my hand with his. Joe is a jovial with your boss. Will your performance now
multimillion-dollar rainmaker at a law get you the validation you longed for at home?
firm in town. He also went to college Jealousy spares no one. Austrian scientists
with Bobby, one of my waiters, way back when. recently concluded that it shows up even in
Somewhere between the appetizer and the dogs, if one is fussed over more than another.
main course, Bobby comes out of the dining What can you do to live with this destructive
room huffing and puffing, his frustration plainly emotion? How can you work with it and tame
revealed in his reddening face. it when it shows up again?
“Joe is too much! This show-off is ordering One of the ways to deal with jealousy is to
so many expensive wines that I don’t have catch it as it arises. Practice observing your
enough room on the table for all the glasses. mind’s way of thinking. Notice how you envy
Why did you seat him with me?” someone, or crave attention, or feel badly
He doesn’t say what else he is thinking: He’s when something good happens to someone
the big shot, and I’m just the server. How come else. Zen wisdom says you can choose which
he’s so successful and I’m not? I worked just as seeds of emotions you water in each moment.
hard as he did in college and ever since too. I The seeds you choose will grow. Don’t water
bet he pulled some strings to get where he is. the seeds of jealousy and envy, but rather the
All this customer did was favor his classmate seeds of friendliness and blessing.
and order some wine. He is having a great time Patanjali, the author of the aforementioned
reveling in his good fortune, while Bobby is sutras, says the key to not feeling jealous is
letting jealousy eat him up. It makes him feel ill. I to bless the good fortune of other people, to
tell him to chill and go outside for some fresh air. be happy for them, and to make them your
Jealousy is as old as mankind. It is friends. He writes that if you practice this,
discussed in the ancient yoga sutras from the “the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed
2nd century B.C. Shakespeare called it the calmness”…and who wouldn’t want that?
green-eyed monster…green as the color of
sickness you can taste in your bile when it Alex von Bidder is the managing partner of the
Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City and a
strikes and you let it come up.
certified yoga teacher. He operates a restaurant that
You most likely experienced jealousy before sees more power personalities than even the White
House, and he calms his mind on the yoga mat.
you could speak. You still might be competing
Insider advice for leadership success
Recent layoffs have
hit my department
hard. How can I get
the job done with
half the staff?
First, manage up. Be sure you
are doing exactly what your
boss thinks is important
and tell him what a good job
you’re doing. That said, all is
not possible in a contracting
universe, and odds are your
boss understands this better
Use a lifeline before you get buried.
than you think he does. Like a
great and terrible Oz, he knows
that when he cuts his staff, he
must also sacrifice more than a
smidgen of functionality.
ENV Y HURTS
Don’t be a prick.
As you manage the
expectations of those above
you, you must tend to the
equally important task of
wrangling your diminished staff
into a new set of harnesses that
used to hold a lot more dogs.
Sympathize with their plight.
Validate their concerns. And,
most important, let them know
that if they are now incapable of
doing a decent job, they need
to let you know immediately.
You’re all in this together, and
you must set realistic objectives
at both ends of the food chain.
Also keep in mind that it’s
often possible to rebuild your
headcount once the CEO and
his direct reports realize just
how difficult it is to meet quotas
and retain important clients
with a reduced employee
population. Nothing is impossible. It can be done. You know
how. You’re a survivor.
Gil Schwartz is an
executive vice president at
a Fortune 500 company.
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