Every woman had her own unique perspective on this cultural phenomenon, but in general, the idea is not wanting to stand out for fear of being criticized or cut down—like the tallest poppy in a carefully trimmed flower bed.
So I asked the Aussies at the Sydney Academy event to share their thoughts and experiences of Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Some described it as being an issue of facing criticism if they did not conform socially. Others saw it as a matter of another’s success reflecting back to someone their own failures, prompting them to negatively judge another as a form of self-preservation. A.K.A: Don’t be too much of anything—wealthy, proud, confident, bold, etc—or you will be made wrong.
Going deeper, one woman said that in Australia, it’s not seen as okay to love oneself too much, to be too proud of oneself, or to desire too much for oneself. Another agreed, explaining that a self-deprecating sense of humor has been applied across the culture to keep people from seeming “too big for their britches.”
The fear of being visible or standing out too much may resonate with you whether you’re Australian or not. Most of us women business owners are challenged on a daily basis with feeling a lack of self worth, and not believing we’re good enough or deserving enough to get the client, receive the money, or land the speaking gig.
Then once we do our inner work to get our confidence up and feel we are deserving and worth it, many of us have to deal with the fear of “But what will others say?” Most of us have been taught that more for someone else means less for us, so it’s understandable that jealously of another’s success can be a default emotion—if we’re not conscious to the fact that we all have the opportunity to reach our fullest potential and create the lives of our dreams.
I’m so proud of the women in the Academy & Divine Living community because on a daily basis, we publicly celebrate each other’s successes, making it not only safe to thrive as a woman in business but actually expecting each other to live out the greatest version of ourselves. We call this celebrating our #newnormal.
As women stepping into our feminine power, we have to work together in going for our own greatness and applauding the greatness in others.
One of the first women who spoke up in Sydney said that it was actually the experience of some initial success, and being on the receiving end of Tall Poppy negativity, that finally made her stop caring about what other people think once and for all. She realized that no matter what, there would always be critics, but she no longer needed to be held back by fear of what they might say.
This is the “AHA!” moment of personal power I encourage all women to strengthen. When you take steps to become visible in the world and honor your dreams, of course people are watching. Some of them will be in fear and some of them will criticize, yet others will be freed and empowered to live their big lives as a result of what is happening in you. If even one person sees you living your life on purpose, and is inspired to break free, then your efforts are worth it.
Through the medium of building our businesses, women entrepreneurs are able to become who we desire to be in the world. We are the game changers.
With every thought that you think, you are taking a stand against outdated belief systems like Tall Poppy Syndrome and saying, “That is not my belief, that is not my truth. I will be empowered and I will claim what is rightfully mine, and I will live my life as a success.” Every single day offers a new opportunity to start.