Envy: your biggest limitation or your biggest drive

April 11, 2013

Over the years I have turned my passion into a job. I’ve gotten results and satisfaction. I have a major sponsor. I have created a successful business.

Inevitably, this has put me in a position to perceive a feeling of envy toward me. I’m not surprised to be envied, I am surprised, however, that most people ignore that envy can be their biggest limitation, both personally and professionally.

All of us have experienced a feeling of envy toward someone or something. It is part of being human. I’ve experienced it myself, many times.

Envy is often either cause or consequence of our surrender before a difficulty or failure, where others have made it, perhaps out of luck. Or at least that’s what we want to see.
Envy turns into helplessness to twists of fate. Or worse, it stops us from seeing the true nature of things.


This does not allow us to analyze. It stops us from improving. It won’t let us grow. We’re just waiting for something to happen. Often this is not anything good. And even when something good happens, we are unable to appreciate it, because, after all, we believe it is due.

In poker, in work, and in life, an attitude like that can be a disastrous attitude, our true major limitation.

Living a life in constant competition, after heavy defeats and frequent disappointments, I realized how important it is to try to learn something from anyone, especially those that I used to envy: those who had made it.

From these people I discovered that behind every success there is always work. Always. Sometimes it is not directly related and not so obvious, but often the fruits are harvested after many years of sacrifice.

Conscious of this, I strive constantly to transform envy into a positive feeling, a great incentive. It’s like drawing power from braking. And this can really change your life.

“That businessman or that collegue of mine is more successful than me even though I have more experience and professionalism?”

We must go beyond the simple “he was luckier.” We must strive to see that, for example, success is not only having more experience or expertise, but also being able to create your own personal network. It means having a more developed emotional intelligence, a deeper understanding of what would happen in the next wave, and having developed the right knowledge. It’s also a million other factors.

“That player wins a coinflip and therefore the tournament, and I don’t?”

We must stop thinking, “he’s lucky, I am not, so there is nothing to analyze.”

Let’s move to a deeper level of thinking: “Why was his coin flip crucial in allowing him to win the tournament?”

“Why we didn’t we play our coinflip at the start of the tournament?”

These are questions that eventually get us to: “How has he earned the chips that have allowed him to get to play a crucial coinflip?”

Maybe before winning that coinflip, he could afford to lose others.

Instead, when it happens to us, we are already out talking about another lost coinflip.

Turning envy into a learning experience is the most important lesson that poker has forced me to learn, a lesson that has allowed me to achieve many of my dreams, those I once used to envy.

Luca Pagano is a member of Team PokerStars Pro


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