April 1, 2015

Explaining the “Whoosh” of Other People’s Success

So I’m just going to start off by saying that this is probably going to be a semi-mildly random blog post. There I said it. It’s probably not going to be this flurry of phonetically poetically charged words. You probably won’t want to stand up from your desk and fist bump the sky Bon Jovi style when it’s over. It’s never going to be a fire you up anthem. But it IS going to be one of those posts that is an important observation I’ve been mulling around in my head, and it might even lead to a few A-Ha moments for you too. It won’t be a fix all. It’s not a “10 Steps to Overcoming Comparison” post. Dang how I wish that existed and DANG how I wish there actually were 10 steps that would get rid of comparison forever. Well, that and cellulite. But that’s another post altogether.

So here it is. Here’s what I was just thinking about. And it made a serious light bulb go off over my head, so maybe it will over yours too. We get a lot of emails about this. It comes up a LOT in mentoring sessions. And I’ll just be honest, it comes up in our own lives too. I think it’s something we ALL struggle with from time to time. So just know you’re definitely not alone here. And this thing that I’m talking about is that feeling you get when you look around and see other people start blowing up in their businesses really quickly…and you instantly think “why not me?” You start to see this, I’m going to call it a WHOOSH, in someone else’s business….and man if it doesn’t take your breath away.


And I just started to think about this frenetic, take your breath away energy that makes our hearts start to palpitate like a Nicki Minaj song beating in our chests when we see it happening for someone else. And that’s when it hit me….it feels like a rush of air has just left the room because this thing that’s happening IS a WHOOSH. And it can knock the wind right out of you. Let me explain.

In the book, Tipping PointMalcolm Gladwell talks about how things like viruses spread or trends catch on. And he always talks about how slow it is in the beginning. A cell infects a cell here or there, a person or two starts wearing UGGS while they’re surfing. And then maybe two cells infect four, and then that first college student wears furry boots to class when she oversleeps. And it grows like that for a while you guys, slowly but steadily accumulating numbers. But then something changes. At some point- Malcolm’s Tipping Point to be exact- something BIG starts to change. I like to think of it like going up that first hill on a roller coaster. Click, click, clack. A very slow but steady ascent that takes a TON of effort to push those twelve cars and all those people up the hill and make it over that first big hump. The tipping point is right at the top. Think of it like the last bit of energy needed to push it over the hill to the free fall below, or the last drop in that bucket at the water park before it dumps on your head. Just one more tiny drop was needed. And when it happens…..WHOOSH!

Things start moving super fast, word catches on like wildfire, suddenly their names are on the lips of everyone talking, and they are EVERYWHERE. Their business is blowing up. And you’re not. You feel that frenzy and it takes your breath away because that whoosh leaves a vacuum in your life that makes it really hard to breathe. There is a reason we feel it. But it doesn’t mean we have to. It doesn’t mean we can’t choose to be happy for them that they are getting the chance to throw their arms up and enjoy the ride. Here’s why: we remind ourselves of the hill they just had to climb. We remind ourselves that they worked their butts off to make that happen. And we remind ourselves that while the world might just be showing up at the end to see them enjoy the ride….we remember that they are the ones who did the hard work to push it over the top. And here’s the REALLY good news you guys: you can go out and do that kind of hard work too.

Our friend Katelyn calls these “micro changes that result in macro results.” Dave Ramsey calls it the “snowball method.” We call it showing up every day and doing the work. And all three are talking about the same thing: reaching one person or one small goal at a time….and the HUGE effects that has over time. It’s about putting in the hours. Doing the work to climb just one rung at a time up the hill. And realizing that the longer you stick with it and the more that you put in, the easier it gets. The less effort it takes to put one last drop in the bucket before it tips over as it did all the other millions of drops that came before. We’ve seen that in our own audience….and I can tell you, getting from 30,000 to 35,000 followers went WAY faster than getting that initial first 5,000. Or even that initial first 500 or 50 for that matter. It speeds WAY up over time. It keeps getting easier. It spreads faster.

There is this great quote that says, “It takes three years to become an overnight success.” And I can’t tell you how MANY times people have said to us over the years “whoa, it feels like you guys just came out of nowhere. You just blew up overnight.” And I always just smile and say, “Yep. 10 years…and then one more overnight.” Keep putting the drops in the bucket you guys. Sooner or later, it’s going to tip.

Go rock it out!


  1. Bek Wallace

    Absolutely right! Your post reminded me of a Zig Ziglar quote, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Regardless of motivation, the relentless daily commitment to anything is what moves mountains.

  2. Natalie

    I love you, I love this. And I disagree with one thing… This post is a “fist pump” into the sky. YOU NAILED IT. You just took thoughts that have been swirling in my own heart and put them in eloquent form. We don’t always see the hard work, the late nights, the sacrifices… And it’s those foundational moments (those Nebraska years, dare I reference one of your own speeches that touched my heart) who make us all who we are. You are such an inspiration to me, Mary. Such a bright light that has helped me to find my own voice. And I’ll be eternally grateful for both of you… As visionaries, as mentors, and as friends.

  3. Tatyana

    Thanks so much Mary! Sometimes you just really need to hear that :)

  4. Sami

    Mary, Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I LOVE your way with words, and can’t tell you how much I needed to read this. What great insight into celebrating others’ success as FUEL for your continued climb, instead of as BITTERNESS…which just leads to nothing! Beautiful :)

  5. Katie

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Your words don’t need to be phonetically poetic to hit the core of what truly matters. No matter how much I tell myself the very same things- that my friends businesses are taking off because they’ve worked so hard-when you’re at the other end of that WHOOSH its hard to think anything good about all the hard work I’ve done. Thank you for baring your heart and letting us know you so deeply Mary. You are such a light in this world and I’m so encouraged by you and Justin, even if I’m not in the industry anymore. XOXOXO

  6. Courtney Cannon

    Mary, I love this! It is so true and so uplifting to celebrate other’s successes while we keep working hard to touch more lives!

  7. Caitlin Cannon

    OK, this may be my new favorite post (I know, I say that a lot). “Yep. 10 years…and then one more overnight.” Yes. So good.

  8. Caitlin Cannon

    (I had to add my last name in honor of the Cannon above my in the comments!)

  9. Amy Drmos

    This. is. EVERYTHING!!!!!

  10. Kristin

    Thank you.
    I needed this today.

  11. Amanda Jackson

    I completely agree with Natalie! It totally was a fist pump into the sky. I literally teared up as I was reading this because I know that I have struggled with feeling like everyone else is super successful, but I’m getting nowhere. Thank you for reminding us that the hard work will pay off, and to just keep putting in the effort one little drop at a time. xoxo

  12. Ashlee Gilligan

    I love this! I agree with Natalie 100%!

  13. Irena

    Sometimes I feel like you’re just talking to me over a glass of wine. Thank you, Mary. :) xo

  14. Friday Five: Spring Break Reads | Sami Renee Photography

    […] 2. “Explaining the Whoosh of Other People’s Success” by Justin & Mary This could not have come at a better time! Success is in the small efforts and the little things; tiny changes can make all the difference! […]

  15. Sarah H.

    Yeah…totally just fist pumped the sky at work. This is so real…Mary I seriously cannot wait to meet y’all. I think you’ve saved my business a million times already!

  16. Michelle

    Thank you so much for this post!! It was everything I needed to hear. You are such an inspiration!

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