I remember a bully from my childhood who liked to beat up smart kids because he had no confidence in his academic ability, and violence was the only way that he could dominate his classmates. However, the bully was not the only person who had trouble keeping up: I constantly struggled to do well in my math classes — but unlike the bully, I felt no need to take my out frustration on my classmates. Instead of being jealous, I worked harder on my assignments until I was ahead of my class.
The bully in every jealous person is like the one from my childhood: instead of being inspired by high-achievers, he feels envy and even hatred towards them, shutting off any possibility of accomplishing anything great himself in the process. A bully sees the achievements of those around him as mocking his failures, and he hates successful people because they are everything he has decided he could not be. Unlike the bully, the self-confident high-achiever is the exact opposite — he accomplishes great things not out of jealousy, but out of a desire to fulfill his dreams. Great inventors do not try to match their peers, but to do the best they can: the Wright brothers invented a plane, Thomas Edison a light bulb, and Gordon Moore a microprocessor instead of a better bike, lantern, or vacuum tube. In short, there are two kinds of men: the self-confident high achiever who does great things, and jealous, self-hating bully who wishes nothing more than to see the high-achiever fail.
[From a letter to the editor I wrote in response to “Sorrow So Sweet: A Guilty Pleasure In Another’s Woe, ” a NYT article.]