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April 8 2016

Is Success Really The Best Revenge?

image licensed via shutterstock.com

image licensed via shutterstock.com

We’ve all heard the statement, “Success is the Best Revenge”, and for the last couple of years, I’ve used that statement to fuel so many of my successes. I came from a high school that never took me seriously.  I was part of the “cool crowd,” and I was always the one offering up my house for a weekend full of partying, so essentially, I created the title of “party girl” for myself. And I lived that title, through and through, until a few months after my 18th birthday. April of 2012, specifically.



I was hired by Vector Marketing, which is the marketing company for Cutco Cutlery. For me, this job changed everything. It was finally a place for me to step away from the “party girl” title and into one that’s more respected and profound. The next three years were incredibly successful for me. I learned essential sales skills, was recognized as the number three sales rep in the entire nation, ran two very successful sales offices, won multiple trips around the world, and earned over $100,000. And so much of that success was fueled by my desire to show my high school friends that I’ve become something more than I was in high school.



Let me repeat that: so much of my success was fueled by my desire to “show them”, them being my high school classmates. Let’s be honest– that is no way to go after success. But unfortunately, so many of us do this. And yes, you could argue that it works, because it worked for me, but it’s a short-term model of going after success. Using revenge to fuel you will not work long-term.

Say the word “revenge”. Say it over and over again. Does it leave you with an inspired feeling or a sinister feeling? Does it give you the image of Deepak Choprah or Cruella DeVille? If you and I are on the same wavelength here, you’ll most likely think the latter to my questions. Getting revenge is not something to be proud of; it indicates that you hold grudges, that you thrive off being better than others, and it indicates that you are not just doing you.



I thought I was “just doing me” while I was working with Vector Marketing, but secretly, I was hoping that my high school friends would notice my successes and begin to think of me differently. It wasn’t acceptance I was looking for, it was the acknowledgment that I had grown up. So, in reality, I was doing everything for them. Not for me. And you know what? After three years with the company, instead of getting that acknowledgment, I was actually somewhat forgotten about. I was so busy getting revenge that I never spent time with the people who I was trying to prove something to. This is why I say it’s a short-term model for going after success. You may gain the revenge, but more likely than not, you will alienate people along the way.

Here’s why: your purpose is misaligned. Last year, I realized that my purpose was misaligned. I realized I was going about this whole success thing in the wrong way.

There is so much good in success. When someone is successful, and they are purposeful, they have the ability to move the world forward. But when someone is successful out of spite for others, they tend to hoard their successes, sort of like trophies on a mantel, hoping one day that those people who they were trying so hard to get revenge on will stop by and awe at all of their accomplishments. And this, I believe, is why many of us look at those who are ultra-successful and assume that they stepped on others to get to where they are, and it’s because of the phrase “success is the best revenge.”

If you are in this situation right now, don’t beat yourself up over it, because you are not alone. I was there for 3 years. But here’s my advice, and this is what has worked for me: stop making decisions based on what other people will think of you. Start “doing you” and truly doing YOU. Take some time to do some meaningful soul searching, and create goals that fuel you to solve a problem bigger than yourself. When you create goals, do not include “to prove myself”, this indicates revenge. You do not need to prove yourself, take that out of the equation. By focusing on larger, more purposeful goals, you will, indeed, “prove yourself”, but that should not be the center of your desires.

Be okay with being vulnerable. Admit your faults, and move forward; these faults are usually what cause the desire for revenge. Something went wrong, and now you are trying to show off. In my case, I was just an absolute mess. I had no respect for my parents, for myself, for my house; I would throw parties all the time, and that’s just the surface of it. In my pursuit of revenge, I actually made my problems and my past seem way worse than they actually were, because I wanted the revenge to be even sweeter. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but that is what revenge does to you, it distorts your reality. Becoming vulnerable was actually the best thing I did for myself because it allowed me to acknowledge my past, thank myself for everything I’ve been through, and focus on the future, with no thoughts of my past.

Life is a journey. Success is a journey. But success is not revenge. We must abolish that saying; it doesn’t serve any good. Success is meant to serve the greater good; not our egos. Let go of revenge and embrace purpose. It’s not easy, it takes a while, and sometimes, it hurts, but I promise you, you will come out so much stronger, and your success will be so much sweeter.

About Shelby Wildgust

My name is Shelby-senior at the University of Delaware. I graduated with a Marketing degree, I'm an entrepreneur at heart; I am a Health, Wellness & Prosperity Coach with an aspiration to become a Motivational Speaker. My friends call me a personal growth junkie, and my favorite thing to do on weekends is have stimulating conversations about how exciting this Universe is over a delicious bottle of red wine. I enjoy laughing, meeting other "spirit junkies", and mobilizing Gen Y to grow beyond their wildest dreams.

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