Tall Poppy Syndrom

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Let the tall poppies inspire your growth

Let the tall poppies inspire your growth

 The Poppy is a beautiful, wild and delicate flower that has great strength and independence. It is known for growing tall, reaching for the sky above the plants that surround it, so that it basks in the sunlight and attracts honey bees for pollination.

But there is a phenomenon that is a metaphor for their outstanding growth that is less attractive in human beings. Tall Poppy Syndrome has a varied history dating back to the Romans, but it is often referred to now as representing "the Politics of Envy".

The desire for normative society is still very strong in humans - and so is our capacity for envy. So when someone stands out, for their achievements, for their beauty, for their success, those who have yet to reach that level of growth, or do not possess the same characteristics, want to cut them down. Rather than seeing the other's achievement as inspiration for their own growth, or as an example of what might be possible, they feel a sense of inadequacy and feel bad about what they don't have. It's easier to bring the exceptional person down than to make the effort to match their success. The view is not "how can I do that too" it is "why should you have - or be - that, when I can't". Their attitude is fuelled by envy.

In some cultures, the dissatisfaction that the Tall Poppies create, is viewed as a negative issue socially and politically - they are a threat to control and so Tall Poppy Syndrome is actively encouraged; cut the poppies down rather than seek to achieve the same. But the development we need as humanity is not served by this attitude - it's a simple truth that we cannot grow by pulling things down (and I'm not talking about a bit of pruning here ;-)). Supporting the growth in those Tall Poppies and then encouraging them to promote growth amongst others is the way to evolve.

Three tall poppies side by sideThe Poppy, when it grows, is not concerned with superiority or comparison. It is not concerned with the other plants in its surrounds, it is simply growing to its potential, reaching its full height. Amongst humans, this is largely true too. Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part high achieving people are not doing it to look down on others, but to look up at the sky. To reach for the stars. To be the best they can be.

So if you are a Tall Poppy - congratulations!! Stay tall and strong and glory in your sunlight - but also remember nature's metaphor extends to pollination - be a guide and sew the seeds that are required to help others to grow tall too.