This splendidly waspish remark is attributed to the writer, Gore Vidal. He was, himself, immensely successful, though acclaimed more for his ‘unserious’ writing than for his political novels, which I find, frankly, quite indigestible. It was these thoughtful and interminable novels about politics that he wished to be remembered for (rather in the way Leonard Bernstein longed to be remembered for his vast symphonies instead of West Side Story, when most of us would have been glad merely to have written one good tune from the show).
Gore Vidal wrote screenplays too, mystery novels under the pseudonym Edgar Box, made a lot of money, and mixed in the Princess Margaret set. But, struggling, despite his success, with some crippling insecurities (I suppose) he suffered fools very gladly indeed, in that it gave him immense pleasure to be both socially and intellectually superior to almost everyone he met. In most cases he was certainly the latter, but I can’t help thinking that those who are conscious of the former have already failed miserably in some way.
Envy is also a sentiment of the young. When we are striving for success or recognition, other people’s talents and successes are an affront. We must grin or grimace determinedly when we hear news of some friend’s astonishing triumph, triumph of a kind that has, as yet, eluded us. But as we age, we begin to take genuine pleasure in others’ success. Success and failure are not the necessary and balancing outcomes of a zero-sum game.
On the way to Bucharest airport yesterday, my colleague, Ioana, and I popped in to see our former colleagues, those working for the company that LLP Group sold 19 months ago. It was LLP Dynamics then, and is Xapt Romania now. Not so successful then, but conspicuously, confidently successful now. Microsoft’s Dynamics suite of software was never my cup of tea, and certainly, under my direction (and others) the company hadn’t thrived. I knew I couldn’t solve the underlying problems, and by the middle of 2013 it was wearing me down, so selling it brought me some guilty relief (and some cash, too, of course, though nowhere near the amount we’d lost). Guilty, perhaps because I felt I might be putting my own interest before my colleagues’. I was the captain, and I was abandoning the ship.
But it wasn’t like that. The sum of human happiness has been greatly increased by the sale – my happiness I was sure of, but theirs too, as I could see yesterday. Now Xapt Romania is doing very well indeed. It’s the largest and best Dynamics AX reseller and consultancy in Romania. It’s profitable, it’s growing (now it employs nearly 50 staff), and it feels happy to me. Hats off to Mihai Madussi and his team.
It’s actually ok to fail, even if others succeed!
And, let’s face it, we haven’t failed everywhere. What’s left of LLP Group, (LLP Group, LLP CRM and systems@work) is still very much more my cup of tea, and it’s doing very well indeed.