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

Thursday, September 23, 2004


  Fending Off Life's Weeds...

Today, Kate wrote this post where she pondered why she had become so tolerant of people who were downright cruel to her--tolerant to the point of actually growing fond of some of them. Boy, did that post strike a nerve in me! That sort of behavior (on both sides) is what prompted me to write my book. Kate is a hip, cool chic who's got her act together--yet, this is one of those areas that all women struggle with at some point.

There are some women who, no matter how successful they are, can never be really satisfied and happy. Sometimes they THINK they're happy. They can even convince others that they are happy. But those who truly ARE successful, happy AND confident can always sniff out the imposters. And anyone who gains power by scaring others into submission and bad mouthing others is no Tall Poppy. To the contrary, she is nothing but a poor, pitiful Weed.

While I was writing my book, I researched the lives and experiences of dozens of women all over the US. It was clear that, while true Tall Poppies possessed many vital characteristics, the one that was all-encompassing and much more prominent in women who were successful, happy AND nice was Confidence. Women who are truly confident don't feel that it's necessary to tear down others to raise their own stock.

I was shocked, though, at how many women honestly couldn't tell the difference between Tall Poppies and blow-hard Weeds! Women who are truly confident can pick out the miserable Weeds from miles away and keep their distance. However, women who are what I call Short Poppies and Garden Flowers could only rarely differentiate between TP's and Weeds.

Some thought that all women who were successful were rotten--they felt that once someone rose to a certain level of success or power, they automatically became tainted and needed to be "cut back down to size" (the stereotypical Tall Poppy Syndrome). Others thought that since Weeds were fearless Trash-talkers and always had a group of wannabe's following their every move that THAT made them successful. And others thought that since Weeds always have so many people following them around, they MUST be confident (think "Mean Girls").

The truth is that if you want to be happy, confident and Weed-free, you have to learn to be a DIPLOMAT, NOT A DOORMAT. There are lots of really nice, successful women out there who are miserable because they don't respect themselves enough to put limits on their tolerance for the bad behavior of others. There is a difference between being pleasant and being a pansy.

I learned a LONG time ago that life is just too short to put up with women who behave badly. I wrote the following on Kate's comments, and I want to post it here, as well:

I want to share with you two of my favorite thoughts from one of my favorite Tall Poppies, Maya Angelou:

1) "When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM!" I agree that, as JFK once said, You have to forgive (otherwise, it'll eat you alive), but you should NEVER forget.

2) Maya Angelou never invites those who have offended her or her friends or family into her home. If someone is being offensive in her home, she asks them to leave. Immediately. She just doesn't tolerate those with destructive tendencies who would "pollute" her home...her refuge. My translation of this principle? Life is just TOO short...

Don't hold grudges against those poor people who build themselves up by tearing you down, but don't allow yourself to be their target, either. Not only will it make YOU feel badly to put up with that sort of treatment, but it makes bystanders feel like you're a sucker or pansy, too. Others won't ever respect you ANY MORE than you respect yourself. Smile, say "Hello" and MOVE ON! They're Weeds and not worth much more of your time.

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