The Envy Cure

Saturday, 3:17pm
Mendocino, CA
Under my thumb is a squirming dog who just had her day…” (Stones)


Do you suffer from the heartbreak of envy?

Are you jealous of friends and colleagues who attain success, while you continue to struggle?

Would you like to learn a simple cure for feeling inferior to others?

Well, then step right up…

Here’s the story: I grew up with the definite impression that ambition was a moral failing.  The operative phrase was “Don’t get too big for your britches”…

… which was a cold warning to anyone who dared attempt to rise above their (vaguely defined) place in life.

And one of the greatest joys was to gleefully watch the collapse and humbling of the High & Mighty.  I believe there’s some evolutionary fragment left in our systems that wants a solid check on keeping folks from leaving the pack.

Now, if you risk failing and succeed, that’s great.  We were there for ya the entire time, Bucko.  Rooted for ya.  Got yer back.

I think our innate need for leadership allows for a select few to “make it” without hostility.  And, as long as they provide whatever it is we need from them — protection, entertainment, intellectual stimulation, decisive action, look good in a tight sweater, whatever — they get a pass.

But we seem to have a ceiling of tolerance for others moving up the hierarchy too fast.  Whoa, there, buddy.  Where do you think you’re going?

And when the unworthy grab the brass ring, it can trigger a hormone dump that’ll keep you up all night.  Because, why did HE make it, when he’s clearly not the right dude to win.  This is totally fucking unfair, and makes ME look bad now.

The lucky creep.

I hope he screws up and gets what’s coming to him…

And so on.

I’ve felt it, you’ve felt it, the nicest person you’ve ever met has felt it.  Humans are constantly comparing themselves to others, and we do not like it when Mr. Envy comes a’knockin’.

Dan Sullivan (of Strategic Coach) has a good take on this: He suggests you stop comparing yourself to others… and instead, compare yourself to yourself.  Get happy with the progress you’ve made from wherever you were before.  Don’t allow your brain to start measuring how short you came up against your lofty dreams, or other’s success. (Which is what most folks do.)

I like that tactic.

However, I have another one I’ve been employing ever since I began my solo career, so many decades ago.

It works, and I think you’ll like having it in your tool kit.

Back then, as a raw rookie, I was dangerously inept.  And woefully inexperienced and unprepared for the tasks ahead of me.  Had I allowed my Inner Scaredy-Cat to win the argument, I never would have left the house to go snag my first gig.

Worse, as I moved into inner circles (at joints like Jay Abraham’s offices), I began to encounter other writers my age and younger… who were light-years ahead of me in every category.  Fame, skill, wealth… and especially that precious sense of feeling like you earned your place in the world and belonged there.

Mr. Envy showed up frequently, and occasionally I would find myself secretly wishing for these guys to fail.  I mean, why them and not me yet?  The bastards were too big for their britches…

But that wasn’t gonna work. If I wanted to earn my OWN place in the world, I realized I needed to knee-cap Mr. Envy, and lock that demon away somewhere forever.

Because the better way to look at things… was to congratulate these guys on their success, learn from their adventures getting there, and encourage even more success for them.

There was, I knew (once Mr. Envy was muzzled), plenty of room for everybody in the writing game… and the other guy’s success didn’t impact my own even a little bit.

In fact, once I selflessly began networking with them, they helped me out.  It was win-win, all the way.

Still, though… that nagging sense of “Gee, I wish I was him” kept lurching back into my head. I wanted to be an MTV rock star, a drooled-over novelist, an infamous international lover, a frequent guest on Larry King (this was a long time ago, folks), David Letterman’s best friend, a gazillionaire with no worries about rent or…

And that’s when I stumbled on this extremely cool CURE for envy.

I’m sure I nicked it from some other source, somewhere… but I haven’t been able to find it explained anywhere else.  Maybe I really did invent it.

At any rate… it works.

Wanna know what it is?

Okay.  Here is my…

Super-Potent Envy Cure: When you find yourself wishing you were someone else… or at least in their shoes, enjoying all the great stuff they seem to be enjoying…

… just imagine being inside their skin — really inside them, being them — for 5 minutes.  Dealing with everything that makes them who they are.

And then see if their life still looks so good.

Most envy comes from a lack of something, perceived or real.  When you’re broke, the dude with two hundred bucks in his checking account looks like a winner.  When you’re desperately horny, the guy getting laid all the time looks like the hero of a 007 novel.  When you’re being ignored in your market, the mogul with the big business machine looks like a cushy gig.

This is where your street-level salesmanship comes in.  (Which is what I’ve been trying to share with y’all over the past 6 years here in the blog.)

Great salesmen lead better lives.  Not because they sell lots of stuff… but because they live in the real world.  You can’t be efficient selling when you’re hobbled with a belief that the world (and everyone in it) “should” behave a certain way… or you wish they would.

Naw.  You gotta be hip to how people actually operate.  So you take off the blinders, and peek behind the masks, and get to know your fellow high-end primates REALLY well, from deep inside their hearts and minds.

This raising of the curtain — shocking at first — will actually make you love people more… while also helping you understand why they do what they do.  You’ll understand why good people do bad things, why bad people do good things, and why the inner life of everyone around you is unique.

And while you love your fellow beasts…

… once you feel comfy with yourself (because you’re finally going after your goals and engaging in your own rollicking adventure in life)…

… you won’t want to spend even a full minute inside the skin of anyone else.

Because it is CREEPY AS HELL in there.

I love to read autobiographies and biographies.  (Or skim them, when they’re horribly written.)

It has changed my outlook — and my petty jealousies — to learn the real story of the people I once idolized, and often wished I was living their life.

Wow, does it ever change your outlook.  Especially when you discover the wicked little secrets that fueled their motivation to attain whatever it is — fame, acclaim, wealth, accomplishments — that triggered your envy button.

The novelists loathed themselves.  The movie stars craved adulation like junk.  The great lovers were joyless asshole sociopaths.  The wealthy barons were infested with sick needs.

Big men still pitied themselves over Mommie’s inattention.  Forceful leaders were quivering lakes of insecurity.  Debonair social stalwarts harbored unquenchable dark desires.

Yes, there are folks out there who succeed without secret vices and immature cravings.

They’re also boring as hell.  And you’d be screaming for release after ten seconds inside their skin.  (Many have just been unusually successful at quashing their sweaty-palmed desires.  In fact, the boring ones are often sitting on the nastiest payloads of demons.  See: Every Bible-thumping politician recently caught with hookers and drugs.)

You want wit, a lust of adventure, forceful opinions and a knack for winning in your heroes?

I do, too.  But I’ve learned to like them despite the roiling mess of complexity coursing through their veins.

In fact, I embrace it.  I like my heroes flawed — it brings out the luster of their accomplishments.

It also highlights the elusive (and quickly disappearing) moments of satisfaction they seek.

You’re alive.  You are here on this earth with a ticket to ride that expires (sometimes sooner rather than later).  You may wish you had a better set-up… finer bone structure, a thicker mop of hair, more muscles, more impressive genitals, bluer eyes, a rich uncle with you in the will, whatever hang-up is spoiling your enjoyment of life…

… but the simplest way to attain lasting happiness is to let your dumb-ass desires drift away, and get jiggy with who you are now, and what you’ve got to work with.

It’s kind of Zen, and it takes effort to get there.  But it’s worth it.

You can’t be happy all the time, but you can actually enjoy the down times, too, once you change your basic orientation from “I wish” to “Here I am”.  Some of the most satisfied people I know are butt-ugly trolls who have learned that natural beauty is fraught with negative side effects (and not worth pursuing)…

… and that, at the end of the day, what really counts is what you bring to the table in terms of being a quality human being.

I’ve known a MOB of successful people in my career (including many of the most famous and infamous “bigger than life” legends in business).  I’ve been friends with them, been let in behind the scenes, and hung out long enough to see behind the mask.

And I wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes inside any of their skins, ever.  I like who I am, with all my faults and all my regrets and all my inherent stupidity.  I fit well inside my own skin.

And — though it took a VERY long time — I earned my place in the world.  Really earned it.  Nothing happened from wishing, or cheating, or relying on luck.

Naw.  I blundered my way into the Feast of Life.  Utterly fucked things up along the ride… but kept learning from mistakes, kept cleaning up my messes and fixing what I broke when I could, kept trying and growing and staying true to the goals that resonated with me.  That’s all I had going for my sorry ass.

We’re all pathetically flawed.  All of us, from James Bond on down through your neighbor who just bought the new Jag (and won’t stop gloating about the deal he got).

Nobody gets out of here unscathed.  You can’t live without making mistakes and stepping on toes.

And yes, sometimes you will get too big for your britches, when you’re going for the gusto.  When it happens, buy new ones.

Stay frosty (and true to yourself),


P.S. My recent reads include the autobiographies of Keith Richards and Christopher Hitchens.  Keith’s may be the best-written of all-time — he’s a brilliant storyteller, used a writer who knew him for decades to help collect his thoughts coherently… and he is tough on himself.  Hitch bares all, but can be a bit long-winded.

The key to biographies is NOT to settle old scores, or try to spin your existence so your legacy looks better.  Screw that nonsense.

The key is to spill the beans, relentlessly.  Lift up your mask, raise the curtain on your demons, cop to your trespasses.  And share the juicy details. The story is not the broad overview, but the detail.  You lived it, dude.  I wasn’t there.

What happened?

P.P.S. What biographies or autobiographies have you liked?

And let us know, in the comment section here, how you’ve handled envy (good or bad) in your life.  Along with the realization that your fellow passengers on this whirling planet are one scary-ass species…

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  • John…

    Seriously, I know you just put this up, but this has to be one of the greatest things you’ve ever written. You changed my outlook in minutes, and reminded me of things that I’ve known all along. Plus I feel damn good sitting here in my skin while I write this.


  • John Carlton says:

    Cool, Russell. I was hoping to get that point across. Too many folks feel bad about bullshit that just needs to be cleared away, so life can begin in earnest.

    Thanks for the note, man.

  • Hans Hageman says:

    I second Russell’ observations. I woke up at 4am thinking about just this kind of thing. Thank you – I’ll be sleeping better tonight!

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, you know you’re on the right path when you’re sleeping well. Either that, or you’re ignoring something (just kidding)…

      Glad this helped. Sleep is VERY important to me, especially when I write. So learning this early in my freelance career was HUGE. Other writers I knew suffered horrific insomnia — from worry, from envy, from free-floating anxiety — and it was a very common form of burn-out…

  • Patrick says:

    A-ha. I had a hunch there was a new post up.

    I can hardly believe it, I’m almost first in line.

    So John, when is your autobiography coming out in and don’t hold nothing back!

    Remember that we are flawed in some way. Lol

    Great post as usual.

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, I got this vibe thing I been ‘sperimenting with, let the folks know when I’ve spilt words on the big blog page…

      I have the chapter headings for the auto… wish it was already written, though, cuz I’m anxious to read it myself..

  • Sue says:

    Great post,John. This is a reminder that is good for all of us. I find as I get older, I try to remind myself that the life I lived was and is unique because it is mine.Through the years I have certainly been far from perfect, but then who is.
    Even though this may sound trite, we need to be grateful for what we have and not waste time giving ourselves grief about what other people have. Because let’s face if we spend too much time wishing for what we are not we miss out on being and enjoying who we are.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Sue. Not sure how old you are… but this kind of Zen realization does come easier when you’ve put a few miles on.

      What I’m trying to do is shortcut the process for others. Thanks for the note.

  • Trish says:

    Hi John
    Great article, Yeh it’s something to aspire to but difficult to achieve. Why do we do that to ourselves? Life is too short to be comparing me to everyone else. Thanks for the encouragement to be the best me.
    PS Loved your work at FWF2.

  • John, that was great. I love autobiographies too. When you do yours please do an audio version too. Not because I can’t read, but because the audio version of kick-ass copywriting secrets is still the best thing that I’ve heard on my commute yet.

  • G says:

    John, great post!

    In NLP they say a ‘pattern shown is a pattern blown’

    I used to make 5k a month, then I made 20k the next and the next month only 12k. . .

    Realising this pattern allowed me to disassociate myself from the money and be grateful for what I received. . .

    . . . whatever is was!

    Making comparisons to other people is a game that can not be won (and a dangerous game). . .

    . . . someone else will always be better off, and, someone else will always be worse off.

    It doesn’t matter if it is social status, financially, in a relationship, it’s a game best not played.

    John, when is your book coming out?
    Halbert is no longer with us (God rest his soul) and we are lining up for it mate 😉


    • John Carlton says:

      I wouldn’t expect the bio to be out anytime soon, but maybe next year.

      I’ve got another book — which is even more valuable for entrepreneurs and biz owners — on the finishing block.

      Looking for publishers, in fact. Half-assed, but looking. The house list will get first dibs, though, as always…

  • Sharon A says:

    Hey John,
    Awesome post, and just what I needed!—I can relate to the growing up stuff; in my case the one I heard most was, “You’ll never amount to anything so don’t even bother trying.” Lots more, but you get the idea. Sticking my neck out in any way was likely to get my head cut off.
    I know Mr. Envy well. My husband and I are surrounded by relatives that make $100,000+++ per year, and who can’t understand why we can’t do it as well. It’s sometimes hard not to let the envy creep in. Despite this, I wouldn’t want to be ANY of them, even though life could definitely be easier. I like being in my own skin too much, which is a miracle in itself.
    I’ve kept a Gratitude Journal for 14 years. I started it when I was homeless and didn’t have a lot to be happy about. Every night I would write down all the good things that had happened that day, plus everything I was grateful for. I still do it now, and the “basic” things are still on the list (heat, a roof, a warm bed, a partner to share the bed, etc.) This goes a long way toward keeping Mr Envy in his place.
    I have challenges—who doesn’t? But each challenge is another blessing in disguise. I may have to look hard for it, but it’s there.
    Thanks for the post—great way to start the day! 🙂

    • John Carlton says:

      Money — above a certain amount (that lets you do what you want without worrying about the rent) — won’t change anything essential in people. But no one wants to find out by being told — they all want to experience wealth and decide for themselves.

      I’ve seen it ruin more lives than it’s helped. It’s lonely with a big bank acc’t…

      • Sharon A says:

        I’ve also heard it said that money makes you more of what you already are, meaning if you’re an a**hole to start with, having a lot of money will make you an even bigger one. Same goes if you’re nice.
        I wouldn’t want to be any of the relatives. One in particular has over a million dollars; but she never spends it because she’s afraid it will disappear. She spends her whole life looking at what she doesn’t have and coming up with trumped up excuses to sue people (including, unfortunately, my husband). She also hides money all over her house–in the walls, the freezer, etc.. I feel sorry for her, because even though she has taken a huge chunk of our money she is no happier than she was. I have all the blessings in the world compared to her.
        I will say if I had even half what she does, I would start my own non-profit. I have always wanted to do this. But I would keep enough to be able to do what I wanted, without worrying about how to pay the bills. Beyond that I wouldn’t need much.

  • John Lloyd says:

    Great post John, really enjoyed the read. I have Keith Richards book ordered for a xmas present, so i’m really looking forward to delving in.

    I would like to recommend B.B. Kings autobiography, it is an eye opener of a read.

    Also The Game by Neil Strauss is great autobiography.

    And lastly Roald Dahl has two autobiography’s, One is called Boy and the other is Going Solo. Both are excellent reads.

    Take care John.

    • John Carlton says:

      Thanks! I did read (and even got to hang out with Neil for a bit) The Game, but will look into the other titles.

      My first hero to fall was Jack Kerouac — the bio on him was devastating to worshipers, but it also served as a warning to anyone looking to follow his steps too closely.

      Anybody else got recommendations?

  • Tony says:

    Thanks for spreading the word John.

    I’ve long appreciated others achievements without envying them and I feel really pleased for them that have made the honest effort to achieve their successes. My reasoning is you get what you think about and if I feel positive towards them then hopefully those positive vibes will rub with me too.

    Richard Bransons autobiography was interesting. I’ve met a couple of people who have known him. He is extremely generous but his cavalier attitude has nearly got him killed a few times. He’s a guy that has attracted all his own ‘luck’ and has attracted some great support people through his attitude. Richard is honest about this in his book.

    Hope we see yours someday soon John.

    Thanks for a great post


  • Lisa says:

    John, thanks for the wisdom to gnaw on this morning. A corollary to that is to notice who around you is deliberately trying to hold you back. Cleaning my circle up was the biggest change I ever had in my world. Sitting and being honest to myself about who do I feel good around and who drains me and makes me feel like crap. Some people only feel bigger by taking from others with belittlement…grew up with alcoholics who were MASTERS at that one. 🙂

    Your coaching group, and others, are great for nurturing that habit of genuinely being happy for other people’s successes, because you are collaborating with other producers instead of parasites.

    Biographies I really enjoyed, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton (politics and insecurity was just as bad back then), and Stalin (because I wanted to try to understand how a monster like that gets power). Adams was great with his journal entries….raw real emotion. McCullough is an outstanding writer.

    Thanks John! Looking forward to the Jan Platinum meeting, great group of people to create with.


    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Lisa. Great point — I’ve often tried to help budding entrepreneurs realize that it’s gonna be a lonely trip most of the time, because the folks close to you don’t WANT you (or things) to change. They will secretly or openly root for your failure. They’re not even bad people — they’re usually trapped in a belief system that gets upset at your success.

      I’ve had two groups of friends ever since I went solo — my “old” group, with whom I enjoy doing stuff that doesn’t cost much… and the “new” group of colleagues and other entrepreneurs who kinda like exploring the finer things in life. I love both groups equally, and slide in and out easily.

      I’ve also drug — kicking and screaming — several friends into the world of freelancing and business. Only about 5% of them stayed, and it was frustrating, but I felt I needed to do it — I’d found a way out of my old life, and I felt obligated to at least point this out to my buddies who weren’t doing so well. At a certain point, I didn’t push any harder (they had to make the big moves on their own), but I sleep well knowing I never kept my discoveries about success a secret from anyone.

      I’m gonna get that Stalin bio, on your recommendation, L. The Adams special on HBO was outstanding, based on that book. Should I read the bio, too?

      Thanks for the note, and the reminder about folks holding you back…

  • Hi John,

    Very enlightening post.

    Strangely enough I was listening to someone this morning who said that we must not forget that ALL of us are the same. We all started out the same. Whatever colour or creed we come from, we are ALL part of the same race – the HUMAN RACE!

    And with that comes the fact that all of us have the same abilities and the same opportunities regardless of what we might think, what we might be told (or indoctrinated if you watch the news or read the media – but dont get me started on that one!!!)or where we live. Success in life, whether it is financially, in relationships, or in life in general comes from within!
    Thats right – within each of us.

    Never allow anyone to make you feel inferior – you are you – wonderful you.

    Get up each day and tell yourself that today I am going to make a difference, not only to my life but to everyone I come into contact with.

    Life is no dress rehearsal



  • Jay says:

    I have actually used your tactic many times, especially in the last few years. It’s so easy (and so human) to believe someone else has life all figured out. That none of the inescapable pains we all deal with apply to them. What really nailed this home for me was seeing Michael Jordan’s NBA Hall of Fame induction speech.

    You’d think after an unparalleled career that resulted in him being called the greatest to ever play the game, he’d be humble. Expressive of gratitude, reflective on all the incredible moments he’d been a part of and just happy to be alive. Instead, he belittled decades-old critics and feuds in the most petty and narcissistic of ways. Bad-mouthing old high school coaches, taunting ex-teammates, you name it.

    It was really sobering to see how fundamentally unhappy this mountain of a man really is. And it’s helped me restrain whatever envy I feel for people like that.

  • Jay says:

    Required reading for anyone who’s ever envied a high-flying celebrity.

  • Is this kinda like, “Yeah, that guy over there is rich, famous, has lots of hot babes, fast cars and nice houses….but he ain’t happy.”?

    Along with the “too big for you britches” (which I totally forgot but heard all the time along with “money doesn’t grow on trees”) there was the thing that people who do succeed (i.e., become rich and famous) really aren’t happy or spiritually fulfilled.

    Of course, there is the choice between being poor and miserable and rich and miserable. I haven’t had the experience of being rich and miserable…yet.

    “Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.” – Helen Gurley Brown

  • Robert Gibson says:

    Great post John!
    Years ago, working on a suicide hotline and a dating service (not at the same time) opened my eyes to the other side of people’s lives.

    People with everything “together” were on the verge of ending it all.

    Successful people were mortally wounded for life from previous loves – wondering aloud if they should ever trust again.

    My experiences there reminds me of this quote:
    “Be kind, for everyone you meet
    is fighting a harder battle.”

    I think your insights point to something even deeper.

    If the best I can feel is “I’m glad I’m not THAT guy”…how much have I learned?

    What really helped me deal with envy are the Beatles.
    When I read how many years they spent in Hamburg’s crappiest clubs before they made their first record..

    Or all the time they spent working on Sgt.Pepper…

    Actually hearing their mistakes in the studio that would never make the final cut..

    Reading about every day in the studio that included countless hours of experimentation, literally inventing new sound processes for a record as outlined in books by Mark Lewisohn…

    All for a few minutes of sound…Sgt. Pepper is 34 minutes long.

    It took months to record.

    Even in copywriting – your story of working for Jay Abraham for free …just to learn from him…

    Sure – someone could be envious of you if they wanted to.

    How many would be willing to pay the price you paid… to have what you have?

    So when I see someone doing well, my best cure for envy is to get an itemized list
    of everything they did to achieve their success.

    If it’s something of significance beyond good looks, inheriting money or winning the lottery, I’m willing to bet the list won’t be short and the sacrifices will be many.

    Most of the time, I’m left with a profound respect for their dedication to their craft.

    As I am with you, John.

    Thanks again,
    Robert Gibson

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Robert. Funny you mention the Beatles — I devour everything written about them (Rolling Stone magazine has my friggin’ number), and understanding what they went through and did to reach the success they did is VERY enlightening. (Especially the realization that the songs that are so familiar wouldn’t have sounded the same if ANY of the essential pieces — from Mal to Epstein to Glyn Johns to George Martin — weren’t in the mix.)

      I, too, worked a suicide hotline back in my 20s. The concept was pretty new then, and we had almost no training, which was scary when folks walked into the facility with wrists bandaged. The main thing that struck me was the stubborn insistence that no one understood how BAD their life was… and it remains hard to sympathize with someone who has clearly gone down an internal rabbit hole of “awfulizing” everything. Yeah, the boyfriend left you, the job fell through, your Mom is disappointed again in you, your best friend died in a car crash… but is killing yourself REALLY the best answer?

      It’s all part of the “what’s it all mean” question all thinking beings suffer through. There are no easy answers, no simple remedies for someone obsessing on doing themselves in. The passive-aggressive gene we all carry (“they’ll all be sorry when I’m gone”) can warp reality for you fast. Emotional nihilism crushes hope.

      It’s complex. I’ve been there, looked into the abyss, barely made it back.

      Sobering note, Robert. Thanks.

  • Hey John, is envy really such a big problem with new copywriters these days?

    I guess I don’t get out enough.

    In 30 years of copywriting I honestly can’t remember a time when I was envious of any other copywriter. I was mostly in awe of the greats. And of course I studied their work whenever possible.

    I do remember, on a few occasions in the very early days, I would get “humbled” (for lack of a better word) by a fellow A-list copywriter…

    …such as the time Pat Garrard’s sales package unmercifully trounced mine for a big Personal Finance promotion…

    …or the time Bencivenga’s package knocked mine for a loop during a Phillips Publishing promo.

    But those whuppings didn’t leave me envious. Instead, they left me more determined than ever to improve my skill levels and reach new heights, but on my own terms.

    I certainly agree with you that the success of other copywriters should only lead a fledgling copywriter to become more determined than ever to hone their own skills to a fine razor’s edge.

    As you know, it takes hard work to reach the top. As the old saying goes, “If you want to shine, you’ve first got to polish.”

    I would add, “…and polish, and polish.”)

    If a copywriter is envious of the success of others, then to my mind it is very unlikely he (or she) has been willing to put in the work needed to learn and hone their craft.

    For some, I suppose it’s easier to envy others for what they’ve achieved than it is to work harder at developing their own talents and turning them into achievements.

    I dunno. Maybe some of the newbies think copywriting is “magic,” and they just didn’t get their fair share. I can’t imagine what else would trigger envy.

    I started writing when I was 11 years old. And I’ve never stopped. Wouldn’t know what else to do with myself.

    But allowing someone else’s successes or superior writing skills to become a mental stumblingblock to my own has simply never occurred to me.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hey, Steve. Back then (God, we’re old, aren’t we), the freelancer craft wasn’t even KNOWN about by very many civilians. We sort of self-selected to climb aboard a profession that wouldn’t tolerate anything but high-end professionalism (which included getting your shit together over petty stuff like envy).

      There’s a fine line, as I see it, between awe and envy. If you never crossed it, you’re a better man than I was. My saving grace was to immediately realize how screwed up envy was. So, as a pro writer, I only experienced it briefly.

      The post here is about ALL envy, though. I really wanted to be that rock star, that novelist, that 007 dude. It didn’t eat me alive, but it was freakin’ distracting. So this tactic isn’t just about professional stuff — it’s for any envy you have for anyone, anywhere.

      Always great to hear from ya, pal. Thanks for the post…

  • Vin Montello says:


    Great article… great tactic… and a I have to agree there’s not better hero than a flawed hero.

    Without character flaws, how boring would life be? Not to mention how boring READING someone’s life would be.

    • John Carlton says:

      Great point, Vin. The current culture is obsessed on seeing everything in black-or-white, simple with no shades of gray, no nuance.

      No complex personality flaws.

      I think that’s why shows like House have a dedicated following. Dude is fucked-up.

      My big realization — after a misspent youth of excesses — was “moderation in all vices”. Not giving up vices, but just not deciding to obsess on any single one. It’s good to gorge on life… it’s not so good to stay at the table, eating, after you’re full.

      Thanks for the note.

  • Karen Tiede says:

    Good article! Can you do gluttony next?

    A variation on the “in his skin for five minutes” is the “take the whole life… including the bits neither of you has seen yet” exercise. The Christopher Reeve ending, in other words.

    I have a list of people whose work I admire on my desk. They all paid “entry fees” for what they know that I wouldn’t in a million years sign up for. Brings me back down to my own life pretty quickly.

  • Deb says:

    Wow! Thanks, John. As we head into the holiday season – that time when so many go to such excess to show how successful they are – your post is especially timely.

    It’s a bit like ‘the devil you know’ where, if we had the chance to switch places with someone, when you really get to see the whole picture, most people would choose to stick with what they have. And then work on making it better for themselves, their family and friends.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking message.

  • Kevin Rogers says:

    Excellent post, John.

    Mr. Envy held a mean grip over me when I was transitioning out of stand-up. Tough gig to quit because there’s no obvious finale.

    Like the end of a long relationship, you keep ending up in the sack together cuz it’s a whole lot more comfortable and convenient than dating.

    Then eventually, it’s just something you “used to do.”

    Takes time to choke the life out of Mr. Envy. Especially when you’re on your 5th or 6th year of searching for the new thing that’s gonna light your fire.

    It was easy to avoid comedy clubs and running into road comics was a good reminder of why I quit — bitter life.

    But, when a comic who use to open for me would pop up on Letterman — pretty tough not to wallow in “what if.”

    Like you said though… be careful what you ask for. Do you want to BE that guy the other 354 nights of the year?

    Another thing I try to keep in mind when it seems appropriate to covet anothers gig is… every lusty sheen dulls over time, and then it’s just your life — complete with all
    hassles and insecurities we all deal with every day.

    For instance, my neighbor in Chicago was a Playboy photographer. When we’d have beers, do you think he talked about being in a room with the world’s hottest naked women?

    No. (believe me, I asked — a lot)

    He talked about other photographers who were after his job… the pressure to make nervous (and often talentless) amateurs look sexy… and how he couldn’t afford a better camera.

    I don’t think I’ve enjoyed Playboy the same way since.

    So, yes, be careful what you ask for… and what you ask about.


    • John Carlton says:

      I love Adam Corrolla’s line about how working with Dr Drew, and dealing with the backstory troubles of so many women, messed with Adam’s ability to enjoy strip clubs anymore.

      There is ALWAYS more to the story, no matter who’s telling it or living it.

      Thanks for the post. Why are you always so close to Vin in the comments section, anyway? You two got something going?

  • John, this is very timely. There is always SOMEONE who we think we want to be like, whether it’s their bank account, stature, and so on.

    Thinking someone else has it better than us gets us all riled up. Reading Keith’s bio really showed me that most of that is smoke
    and mirrors.

    He really spilled the beans about the pain, and the crazy life that became the Stones.

    Seems like one big farce, getting all jealous about what you PERCEIVE to be true, doesn’t it?


    P.S.-That Open G Tuning that Keith uses goes like this. D-G-D-G-B-D

    THEN Play start me up. Works every time.

    • John Carlton says:

      The open G tuning comes from Robert Johnson, via Son House. First tuning most slide players learn (Muddy, Lowell George, etc) before sometimes moving to an open E. Steve Cropper used the G a lot without the slide, and that’s where Keef got it, I’ve heard.

      All the hooks from Sticky Fingers on are on that G tuning…

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Graham, Karen Tiede. Karen Tiede said: The Envy Cure | The Marketing Rebel RANT – via @johncarlton007 […]

  • Richard says:

    I don’t think I have read other people’s bio’s, I think I was too busy having fun. Nowadays though I think that the rule in life is to learn from mistakes. Once the celestial guru’s see that you have a least made an effort the next round you might get a fairer shake of the stick or swing at the bat (depending what country you originate).

  • Lee says:

    That was a good story no doubt!

    Putting me feelings together about envy and jealousy is quite difficult when I have not done that before.

    I certainly when writing articles or commenting on whatever I come across that I already put all my thoughts and feelings or emotions into it.

    Deffinately I have and still have the envy “wish it was me, pet lip thing” but I’m comfortable, a quote from The Blues Brothers “If the shit fits wear it”, believe you and me I have a closet full of “shit” suits.

    So my secret sauce is simply accepting where I am.

    Proving to myself that I can do this whole making money online thing, means more than worrying about how such and such is getting on.

    I also believe that learning on your own can and does happen but the speed at which it happens can be a lot slower, learning from people better than you is far quicker.

    Ultimately though you should be just concentrating on rowing your own boat.

    John your article was that good I wrote whats above, cheers

  • Peter Wright says:

    Great post John, what helped me understand that it might not be too comfortable in other people’s skins was something by, I think, Rudyard Kipling: If all the worlds troubles were put in a heap and then shared out equally, we would rather have kept our own.

    Close calls to the premature and violent ending of one’s life or liberty also have a sobering effect on one’s capacity for envy and an appreciation for the really important things in life.

  • Derek Pierce says:

    Thanks John – very cool post as always…

    I needed this kick in the pants to curb looking for “greener grass”.

    And I heard that “too big for your britches” my entire life…

  • jim says:

    I can’t remember the name of the book, but it’s a biography or autobio of Jay Leno back in the early 90s.
    This was a guy who was told by an NBC executive that he had a face that scares children.
    Johnny Carson told him after a few “Tonight Show” appearances that he wasn’t funny. Most comics would have folded the tent, but Jay dug in deeper.

  • Ray says:

    John, killer share, man! I really needed this.

  • Drama says:

    Damn, JC! Are you reading my trickin mind?

    I’ve been struggling with the whole envy thing for a while. Those younger guys earning more money really pissed me off.

    Thanks for a great post!


    P.S. I’m currently reading Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw. Great book.

  • Peter says:

    Hi John,
    I never felt good about myself till I finally learnt the lesson. Spent all my early life thinking about what people thought of me and trying to please them.
    Finally the penny dropped. They didn’t give a f*** about me or what I did. People only really care about themselves so why was I trying to please them.
    My goal changed to pleasing me within my own moral code that is.

    PS I’ve been missing emails about any updates on your blog so just put myself on the list again so I don’t miss out 🙂

    • John Carlton says:

      It’s always better to re-enter your info here, than risk allowing some glitch somewhere to interfere with our emails getting to you, Peter.

      I like your point here, too — I grew up believing that everyone else knew stuff about life and thought big thoughts they weren’t letting me in on. Drove me nuts — until the day I discovered that most folks didn’t actually have a single coherent thought in their brains at all. They had almost NOTHING of worth to share with me.

      That’s when I started seeking out the achievers and self-starters and experts and mentors-with-something-to-share.

      Most folks are utterly consumed with their own lives. It’s a pity, but it shouldn’t you from moving forward with a better plan, and a bigger Zen attitude of embracing life.

      Thanks for the post.

  • Dan A. says:

    This isn’t technically an auto-biography, but I wanted to recommend the documentary “Tyson,” which is a movie of Mike Tyson commenting on his life, with pictures and video thrown in.

    There’s never been a better example of “There’s two sides to every story,” than this film. You get insight to what made him successful, and what brought him down (and NEITHER is what you thought it was before watching).

    You also develop a profound compassion for him and realize that in his shoes, we would would be lucky to have both the success and personality of him.


  • Great read John, I loved it. I think I know where you sort of nicked it from though it is kind of a twist on “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Atticus Finch to daughter Scout, Chapter 3.”
    One of my favorite books that even made a good movie. This blog has been perfectly timed for things that are going on for me at the moment. Thank you

  • Joseph Jin says:

    I suppose it’s not possible to be interested in any biography (fictional or otherwise), unless that person’s life story somehow reflects one’s own.

    I usually don’t deal with envy well, but when I do, it’s because I realize that the thing I’m envious about is either:

    1. A quality I already possess but don’t realize I possess. Therefore, I make the mistake of thinking that jerk over there probably took it from me.

    2. A quality I don’t ultimately care about but don’t realize I don’t care about. Therefore, I waste time and energy convincing myself that I do care about it.

    To make it short: envy is just the pain you feel when you’re telling a story which isn’t true for you.

    And I like your point about supporting others who succeed. I would say that’s the same as making their success your success, which means making their story your story.

    And if their story is your story, you’re being true to yourself. And there’s neither pain nor envy in that.

  • Danii says:

    John, this has to be one of the best written posts of yours I have ever read. Thanks for giving me what I needed to hear today.

  • Gary says:

    Just was dealing with that one this morning as I caught myself in the mist of tooling down the road in my 1997 Volks Jetta(faded red,passenger side fog light smashed and a little puff of smoke out the rear to let you know its still got some oil in it)and this brand new porsche cayenne blows by me while I’m cranking along at about 15 over the limit.
    I mean this guy comes by like a rocket then jumps in front of me and stands on his binders because just as he crested the hill he saw a cop or something, then he took off again disappearing fast as he blew by me.

    I wanted this guy to die right there on the spot, who the hell was he to drive that awesome car unafraid to use its horsepower and braking power properly. I just lost my focus and stewed about this almost all the way into the office, then it dawned on me……maybe he was late to work and he can’t afford to be late at all because he’s got himself so bound up in debt that he’s probably doing 18 hour days just so he can afford the payments.(secretly, I wanted someone to be joy-ridding the hell out of that thing because they just stole it)

    Either way I decided I didn’t want to be in his shoes and besides that 38 miles per gallon ain’t a bad gig.

    Good stuff as always John. Keep it up!

    p.s. god I am envious of your insights….nope I’m not going to go there.( one…two….three…four…ahhhh there see all better)

  • David Deutsch says:

    John, the new Sinatra bio is great, extraordinarily well written, and all sorts of insights into what makes a great musician and a great anything.

    Dick Cavett’s new book is a collection of his New York Times columns, and if you haven’t been reading them for the past few years, you’ve got a real treat in store — both in terms of the writing and the delicious content of his encounters with the people he interviewed on his show.



  • Hi John, great post. I am sure that in one way or another most of us have been( or are ) there. Some of that stuff sneaks up on me periodically, but as you say, you have to try to let it go. Easier said than done much of the time. I find that as I get older I just have to try not to regret stuff from the past, but to look to doing things in the future.

    Autobiography I have read recently, Sir Ranulph Fiennes – Mad, Bad and Dangerous. What an incredible life.

    Biography- The death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell.

    Talk about someone who had it all and just could not cope.

    All the best, Seb

    Great Pedometer watches

  • Richard Muir says:

    Heck John I loved that!

    That is the equivalent of sitting under a bodhi tree listening to Buddha, throw in a splash of street smarts and mix it up with some resonant teenage angst and season with some gold ol rebellion for the modern day version of be present!

    And what is is it about reading bios on rock stars, how good are they…that window into the crazed world filled with debauchery and no limitation.

    I also splash into the great leaders and biz bios but still for a raw thrill love the ones on people who go out far beyond the reaches and report back to let us know what the heck is out there.

    And I second that motion get that bio cranking I would love to sit back and spend 5 minutes in your skin so to speak! Now that Sounds scary!

  • David Deutsch says:

    P.S. Coincidentally, Marcella Allison just sent me this quote from Richard’s book, which she says reminds her of your copywriting philosophy of: “be the most interesting thing that day in someone’s life of quiet desperation”:

    “They’re wishing me to do things that they can’t. They’ve got to do this job, they’ve got this life, they’re an insurance salesman… but at the same time, inside of them is a raging Keith Richards. When you talk of a folk hero, they’ve written the script for you and you better fulfill it. And I did my best.”


  • Andrew says:

    As ever JC, on the money with this post.

    I love this line “from “I wish” to “Here I am””

    I heard a variation of your main idea, I think from Stephen Pearce or Mike Litman, (apols to the real author if it wasn’t either of them).

    “Don’t be better than others just be better than yourself.”

    I struggled mentally and beat myself up for ages trying to be as good as others not recognising that they had been dong their thing for a while already (it takes 15 years of blood, sweat and tears to become an overnight sensation) so how could I possibly be up to their speed? Once I got that then it all changed.

    Now, I’m happy progressing at a rate that’s good for me. It may be slow for some but it’s too fast for others.

    But, it’s right for me although the bank manager doesn’t necessarily agree 🙂


  • simon dodd says:

    Fantastic post John. This is the first time I have been on your site and I truly loved reading this post! I will read through some of your other posts when I get the chance, but thanks for this. It really did help me out! I have been looking at a lot of Felix Dennis’ work recently to motivate myself.

    I used to get very jealous of the very successful people in my industry but now I enjoy trying to get to know them and learn from their mistakes as well as my own!

    Thanks again John


  • Kimberly says:

    I am so printing this post out, and putting it in my planner for anytime I feel the slightest twinge of jealousy.

    Thank you so very very much.

  • John, I thought “Einstein: His life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson was brilliant; I also enjoyed “The Professor and the Madman” by Simon Winchester (although I don’t know if it can be called a bio).

    I’ve also read the biographies of Newton and Marie Curie, both in Spanish which were good but somewhat boring after the first few chapters. You might enjoy “The Great Escape” by Kati Marton, again not exactly a bio but the story of nine jews who fled Hitler and changed the world (for better or worse if you ask me).

    “En.vy: A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.”

    Well, if this is the definition of envy then I’m guilty on all counts at many points in my life.

    I’ve gotten better, having wrestled with those demons with sword and bayonet until I finally learned that the “grass is greener on the other side” is utter bullshit.

    Regardless of the scars I’ve acquired along the way (and I have to confess it’s not a long way), I’ve discovered that ultimately there’s no one better to be me, than me.

    So I guess now I’m better prepared to meet envy and look it in the eye and take it for what it is, a stupid feeling of trying to argue with reality and hoping to win.

    I am who I am and those close to me (and which matter the most to me) seem to like me that way. They remind me of my stupidity when I envy the life of other people, that makes all the difference in the world to me.

  • Kim Edmunds says:

    Thanks very much for this very insightful tidbit. Especially pertinent in this type of economy and at this time of year. A great reminder of how human we all are.

    Big hugs,

    Your Number 1 fan in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Jurg says:

    I feel sick to my stomach…I have so much “work” to do…& way too much regret. Thanks for calling me out and to grow some stones…

    • Jurg says:

      Just came across this in your “Money, Money, Money” post>>>

      “I NEVER regret anything I’ve done. (I am big on remorse and changing when I’ve been bad, and cleaning up my messes… but I don’t regret anything. I do the best I can, every moment of every day. If I fail, I work on myself so the next time I do better. Regret is like guilt — worthless. If you did something wrong, fix it, make amends, clean up the mess… and actively change so you do better.) ”


      • John Carlton says:

        I grew up in a very nice family that, instead of spanking, was big on using guilt to get the brood to obey the house rules. I was constantly confused about this vague stress of not just having done something wrong, but of being a “bad person who should be ashamed”, too.

        One of my first acts as an adult (okay, late teens) was to examine guilt… and realize that it was different than remorse. Not just the language — the entire structure of the emotional assault and response.

        Guilt, I noticed, froze people up. AND IT NEVER CHANGED THEIR BEHAVIOR! They kept doing dumb/bad things, and then “paid” for it by feeling guilty. But that didn’t fix what got broken, didn’t allow for emotional growth, didn’t do anything but set up a truly stupid self-perpetuating hamster wheel of being ashamed.

        Fuck that. Remorse is pro-active. You don’t PROMISE to do better next time… you take steps to just DO better next time. You change your behavior, your inner scripts, you crush all the BS you’ve been fed about feeling ashamed for having normal urges or whatever, AND YOU STOP PRETENDING YOU CAN LEAD A PERFECT LIFE WITHIN OTHER PEOPLE’S RULES. Sorry for the all-cap screaming, but this is SO important.

        Guilt is a campsite on the road of life. You pitch your tent and never leave. Remorse is a pit-stop, where you deconstruct, re-boot, fix and change stuff, and then go on with it.

        This shouldn’t be rocket science… but you never get this advice from anyone credible growing up. It’s a shame. The people in charge should be ashamed of themselves for allowing guilt to play such a huge role in Western life…

  • Stephen Bray says:

    Autobiographies are gr8. One
    of my favs is that of the late
    Helmut Newton, the German
    Jewish inventor of ‘Porno Chic’.

    Not only did he escape from
    Berlin under the Third Reich,
    he also became a gigolo, (he
    sleeps for money and makes lots
    of dough). This was in Singapore
    and not really part of his
    escape plan!

    Newton writes in a simple but
    incredibly honest style. He
    reveals lots of failures and
    foibles, whilst enjoying plenty
    of healthy sex on the way.

    Even when crippled with a
    debilitating heart condition
    Newton makes few compromises,
    indeed he produces his best

    He’s a real example of how to
    succeed and have fun along the
    way, which I guess is what we
    all want?

    John, if you enjoy honest
    autobiographies you’ll enjoy
    ‘Helmut Newton: An

    Kind regards,


  • Mike Morgan says:

    Fantastic John,
    Down this way we call it the “Tall Poppy” syndrome!
    It seems to give people great satisfaction to try to knock down those who stick their heads above the parapet!
    Envy breeds bitterness.
    As always an awesome post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Viviana says:

    Hello, John –

    Wise and spot-on advice as usual. For years I believed that nearly everyone was in on this magical secret to success except me.

    And if only I could just ‘get it’, all my problems would vanish and I’d never envy anyone again, and I’d be happy, and rich, and…and…

    John, I think you’ve just given us the real blueprint for leading a useful and fulfilled life. Time for us to stop chasing our tails (or everyone else’s) and start using our heads and hearts.

    Wishing you Zen and happiness from snowy London Town, Viviana

  • Douglas says:

    Hi John,

    This is my first visit to your blog and can i say what an excellent introduction. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject which was written with great humour as well.

    A lot of what you said resonated with me. It seems I have been spending my life forever comparing or judging myself by ‘other’ peoples success or status that it has left me paralysed to do no more than analyse myself as opposed to start ‘swinging’ into action.
    Your piece as helped me to realise that I can achieve in my chosen niche if i stop comparing and start doing and that there is room for all of us to be successful. We just need to look into ourselves and learn to be confident in what we have to say. And then, just maybe, others may find this interesting as well.
    Thanks for sharing,

  • ken ca|houn says:

    Superb writing as always… I like to study your cadence, word choice, underlying message, structure and how you’re telling the story. Always some of the most interesting writing I’ve ever seen, John… kind of like most musicians play in E/G, and you’re in A# (or Em7). Thanks for showing how it’s done.


  • JT says:

    Great Blog !
    it sounds like u may have come across something like this in Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now !
    Wonderful advice !
    Cheers John ! : )

  • Helen says:

    Drive and ambition, desire for brilliance in all things competes with the primal fear of being completely ‘outside’ the tribe. We are talking gumption draining fear.

    Like the cat who finds its cat flap sealed and bolted for daring to ask ‘why’ and ‘who said’ and ‘why not?’, peeing on the pristine carpet of social construction / conformism. (Of course cats spend a lot of time in existential rumination reading social construction theory!)

    Yet if I don’t envy enters luminous green. Its the litmus test: As soon as I get into action envy evaporates, back into offering and contributing rather than expecting, illusions of deserving and resenting. Working on my own stuff is the antidote.

    A great reminder our juicy, intestinal innards are the fabric of a fascinating, multi-colored life, gory bits and all. Embrace it and stop looking for the ‘right way’…….. (cough) Helen.

    Stephen King ‘On writing’: funny and informative

    As Always You Are A Brilliant Read

    Thank You

  • Gil says:

    Consider a Phase II existence where you’ve knocked the cloud cover from your illusions about yourself and everyone else you created. As a Chiild of God you are here in this planet to play a game. You wrote the script, you chose your part and the part of everyone else in your “real life” movie. (Check out DVD “The Purple Rose of Cairo”). Change your script if you don’t like the part you’re now playing. This will knock the shit out of all those crazy pretenses that got you bamboozled in living your fantasy.

  • Jesus loves me John!

    I’m starting to think you’re getting old when you use phrases like “young guns” and “ole guys like us” (Class of ’69)

    I have to admit I needed this jolt this morning. Caffeine just ain’t doing it anymore.

    BTY love the new look and feel of the “rant”.

    All the best,
    Mad Guy

    • John Carlton says:

      Hey, Mad. I graduated a year after you nutballs in the ’69 class.

      I wouldn’t trade growing up in the sixties for anything. The adventure of going from Eisenhower hang-ups to free love — all inside of a few short years — is unique in history, and we’ll never see that kind of change again.

      Remember when a beat-to-shit copy of Playboy summoned reverence, silent awe, and a sense of having trespassed into forbidden territory?

  • I like how when I take the time to read your posts you hit me in between the eyes with the truth.

    Jeesh.. you and Robert G use the words that wake me up like being a scardey cat!

    Thanks again for the kick in the ass that I need.

  • jimmy d says:

    Hey John
    thanks for this post and the wisdom of your words. As a newbie in this internet marketing game I find your words setting me a strong foundation for what I want and need to accomplish in many areas of my life.
    ” To thine own self be true ”
    Shakespeare right?

    Thanks again.

  • Hey John,

    Sweet post. really sweet. I read it out loud into my computer (sound quality and my reading is ‘just OK’ but i just did it on the fly)…

    Anyway, just in case any of your blog-readers would rather listen to it than read it, here ya go:

    Feel free to do with that what you please.

    David Gonzalez

    PS- Michael Lovitch and I are really looking forward to hosting you at one of our Internet Marketing Party events… very soon! 🙂

    PPS- special thanks to Paul Colligan for tweeting your Envy Cure post.

    PPPS- Frequent guest on Larry King, eh? 🙂

  • Pam Allyn says:

    What an soul opener! Thank you for aiding in awakening my inner self to all that is good in my life…

    Pam Allyn
    Co-author “The Solie Chronicles, The Life and Times of Gordon Solie.”

  • Hi John,
    please, take this the right way; I have never found your previous writings very inspiring to me – not because they in and of themselves are not, but because I am the way that I am, and you are the way you are, and the match hasn’t quite been there.
    This time, however, the resonance occurred; great piece of writing, and so true! I had not looked at it from the angle of envy before, but essentially to recognise the immeasurable value of being YOU, as you are, is the greatest practice of all. To not be mislead by the unfair distortion that comes from the fact that we are always comparing our own inside with other people’s outside.
    From the outside everyone looks better off than they are – at least some of the time. I know, because I’m in the privileged position, as a counsellor/psychotherapist, that I get to hear about what goes on on the inside too. I have worked with millionaires (even one billionaire), and found that… essentially we are all the same, we have good days and bad days, we have joys and miseries, we have strengths and weaknesses. We are human. And that’s enough.
    As Werner Erhardt once said, “When you get that it’s okay not to be okay, then you’re okay”!
    In appreciation,

  • Jon Sollie says:

    So much to do, so little time. We mere mortals spend far too much time dwelling on “sins of the past”, stuff we’ve done, people we’ve hurt, etc….get over it. Be the best you can be, and move on. Tick tock, tick tock! Enjoy. :-).

  • Hi John.

    This was a brilliant post! Whilst at first, I admit, I read with the eyes of a copywriting student trying to ‘disect’ your writng style, the more I read the more hooked I got.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the abundence mindset (even mailed my list about it), and how a healthy perspective is to believe that success is not a scarce quantity – there’s plenty of it to go around.

    Thanks a lot for an inspiring and interesting read,
    Nathan Thomas

  • Zorro Zorro says:

    Great post, John! Seems “envy” is an ego thing, wise but not always easy to avoid.

    I hope for an increase in “minimalism”, as so aptly discussed by Everett Bogue, Chris Guillebeau, and Tammy Stobel (no autobiographies from them yet). Getting rid of alot of our “stuff” decreases urges to envy others for their “stuff”, and encourages us to focus on inner growth as opposed to outer botox-laden skins. Many of the people I used to envy are the “walking dead” as defined by Everett. Envy is clearly a waste of precious time. I also use “Meridian Tapping” or EFT to tap away envy or any other negative emotion quickly.

  • ken ca|houn says:

    John’s reply to me above, about Em7 inspired me to record this today, let’s call it “copywriting jazz”:

    unleashing the inner copy jazz cat within lol…seems like a lot of marketers/copywriters are also musicians, maybe we can do a jam session some year together.

  • Perhaps a lot of people after reading John’s post might think it’s great. But not a lot of people realize that John is not sharing the full story.

    I happen to know this because I just finished reading something else that does complete this saga. Let me explain…

    Firstly, what comes next is not of my writing, much as I wish it would have been. Alas, it comes from someone whose legacy overshadows that of every copywriter.

    “…Back in the late ’60s, I read a novel. I can’t remember the title but, I’ll never forget though the story. It was about one college professor who was jealous of another professor who had become rich and famous by writing a series of “how-to-become a-success” type books.

    The first professor decided he would discredit the second guy. His plan was, he would read one of the self-help books, follow its instructions to the letter… and then… since he knew none of these instructions would actually work… he would write a book exposing the “how-to” book author as a fraud.

    So, he read one of the books, followed all the instructions… and… unfortunately for him…

    His Life Started
    Getting Better!

    t Setting goals did work.

    t Keeping a positive mental attitude did work.

    t Visualizing himself as the improved self he desired to be did work.

    t Planning his work and working his plan did work.

    Etc., etc., etc.

    Ain’t that a bitch? What’s the world coming to? You set out to discredit a man and then discover his advice is actually helping you!

    Anyway, I’ve got another book in front of me now titled, If I Knew Then What I Know Now. In this book, CEO’s and other smart executives share wisdom they wish they’d been told 25 years ago. It’s pretty good. Here’s one very short observation from page 144 by a columnist named Whit Hobbs:

    “Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at — something that’s bigger than you are, and you can’t hardly wait to get at it again today.”

    What a great observation.”

    Not only is this a great observation in it’s own right, but if you read the rest of the article you would also learn that most of it is a tribute to John Carlton.

    And it’s there where I’ve learned something truly important. A lesson of admiration, not of envy, of humility and great respect for John Carlton.

    I therefore thank you John, even if I don’t truly know you, because I’ve learned something of worth today. And that makes a big difference in my world.


    Jean-Paul Cortes

    P.S. The article I’m referring to was written by Gary Halbert you can find it here

  • Greg Vining says:

    Great post again, John. We have to remember that our flaws and struggles in life are what makes us who we are. And that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

    If you wish you could have someone else’s life you would have to go through all the bullshit that they went through. And you might not be able to handle it. Because you were meant for your life and all the things that come with it. Not someone else’s.

    As far as autobiography’s go, Bill Bartman’s “Billionaire Secrets to Success” is a nice easy read, as well as pretty darn inspirational.

  • Mark Nolan says:

    “Moderation in all vices.”

    Ya gotta trademark that one 😉

  • Doug Rawady says:

    Truly OUTSTANDING post, John…made all the more enjoyable by your engaging way with words! Thanks for pointing me to it in the spirited conversation exchange you ignited over at Facebook.


    Doug Rawady

  • Shaun says:

    Ok, about to swat the Hornets nest with this one . . .

    Anyone take a peek at the recently released George W. Bush biography?

  • carlos says:

    It’s almost a breath of fresh air, reading all the comments and replys from John.

    I never thought of reading autobiographies, but I will. I think I’ll begin with the Newton’s. I new boot, beginner only to be a year in business alone…in fact it’s been a lonely trip for the most part. Thank God, I came accross real material I can relate to, I can now see delight at the end of tunnel…

    Any recommendations of Autobiographies…keep me posted.

  • carlos says:

    Ross Jeffries recommends reading The Wright Brothers Autobiography. Apparently they struggles quite a bit with their experiments…might be something of interest for many of you…Thought I’d share it.

  • I’ve always been envy to other peoples success!

    thank you for the info. and guide!

  • James Z says:

    John, you are a great writer no doubt about that.
    Something about this post makes me sick. Maybe it’s that I instinctively know what you are saying but my subconscious still wants those things which will not lead to what I really want.
    The internal struggle continues….

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