What to do when your friends are all successful: Fast Company, Oprah-level successful!

Yes, that’s right. My friend, author and fellow Portlander Cheryl Strayed, has just caused Oprah to reopen her book club. (Her book, Wild, is amazing. Obviously. Reese Witherspoon bought the rights a while ago.)

A few weeks ago, when I opened up Facebook, I saw my friend Claire Diaz-Ortiz with an announcement of her own:

She was named one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business, ranking higher than Bjõrk.

Another one of my Facebook friends, who I first met 12 years ago, Moshe Kasher, is probably going to have his book Kasher in the Rye made into a movie soon.

To recap: in the last month, my friends have recently met or been anointed by Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Conan O’Brien, the hip business elite, and the Bible of the literary world.

Now, there are a few things you can do when shit like this happens.

The first is what I would have done a few years ago, before I started studying luck and success and why these things happen, anyway. I’m not proud to say it, but I would have done something pretty low and passive-aggressive (thanks for the lifetime of tips, mom!). I’m talking “I left a biting comment on your article” kind of low. “Let’s suggest that the Wikipedia entry gets deleted” kind of low.

But now I realize that life is not a zero-sum game. You do not lose anything when other people win, and you do not win anything when other people lose.

I’m proud of my friends: they make me work harder. I know how much they’ve sacrificed to get where they are, and for how long they’ve fought. The social networks we belong to are more important than you realize: when your friends gain weight, you gain weight. When they’re happy, you become happier.

In addition to these network effects, there’s actually an upside to having all of your friends being wildly successful, lucky, or just plain good. I’ll get to that next week!