Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Saturday, July 31, 2004


  Welcome to The Tall Poppy Diaries

What's a Tall Poppy?

A few years ago, a group of girlfriends and I were discussing why so many women feel obligated to cut down other women who are perfectly nice but who have distinguished themselves in such a way that they "stand out from the crowd". I suggested that it was the result of envy, though most women would swear that jealousy had nothing to do with their distaste for the women they trash. My friend, Laura, spoke up and said:

"My friend Karen lived in Australia for a while. She told me that in Australia they call high-achievers 'Tall Poppies'.

When you have a poppy field, it's most desirable for all of the poppies to be the same height. The entire field of poppies looks better when they appear to be all the same. So if one poppy grows taller than the other poppies around it, they just chop it down so that it doesn't make the rest of the poppies don't look bad.

It really is the same way with people. When someone achieves too much and 'grows too tall', it seems like their peers feel obligated to try to knock that person down."

Eureka! Those Aussies were onto something. Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well in America, and I know lots of tortured, but lovable Tall Poppies who are living proof of it's existence. I also know lots of prickly Weeds who are ready and willing to cut down any Tall Poppy who dares to move up a rung or two on the ladder to success.

So what's a Tall Poppy to do? Who REALLY empathizes with a girl or woman who is successful, and happy; who always seems to get what she wants (even though that isn't the case)? OTHER TALL POPPIES DO, that's who.

If you usually find yourself celebrating your success alone in front of your TV with Carrie Bradshaw and a quart of Ben and Jerry's...

1) Don't despair! Realize that you are in fine company. Many of the people you admire most are right there in the trenches with you.

2) Surround yourself with people who can be happy for your successes and not get in a snoot when you try to share your happy news with them.

Oh! So, you're coming up short in the 'I'm so happy for you, girlfriend!' department?

3) You can always tell ME about it!

I will always be happy to hear you toot your horn or whine for a few lines--just as long as you are keepin' your bloom on straight (naughtiness and meanness are NOT TP Characteristics!).

Tall Poppies are just regular women whom, on occasion, have good things that happen to them. They also have rotten days, just like everyone else, regardless of how "easy" their lives may seem to some. And THAT is what the Tall Poppy Diaries is about. It's about the good, the bad and the downright common experiences we all share, rather than focusing on the icky, plastic, perfectionist facades some successful people present (they aren't Tall Poppies) or the vindictive loathing of successful people that some people seek to dwell on (they're not Tall, either).

And, by the way, there are lots of successful people who are NOT Tall Poppies. Weeds who get to the top by tearing down others as they climb up may deserve to be ripped out by their roots. But those who have truly gotten ahead through hard work and determination without trampling others along the way deserve our respect and kudos.

So come on in, grab a breath of fresh air, and feel free to join in the discussion. I'll share observations of my own about life in the Field, a few links that I think Tall Poppies would find interesting, and I hope that you will feel free to do the same.

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