Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tall poppy syndrome?

THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ON CONANSTEVENS.COM, you can find this article in its original form by clicking HERE.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Tall Poppy Syndrome is a distinctly Australian negative trait. It refers to those who get their kicks and sense of self importance by bringing down others who are successful. It can also refer to these same type of people who revel in the misfortunes of these same successful people.

Tall Poppy Syndrome is such a wide spead trait that even our current Prime Minister felt moved to make this statement:

"if there’s one thing we need to get rid of in this country it is our tall poppy syndrome."

- John Howard (Australia Prime Minister 1996 - current(2007))

The Tall Poppy Syndrome refers to the cutting the head off the tallest poppies (in a garden) so that none stand out from the crowd. In human terms it refers to many Australians wanting to see everyone leveled and for no one to rise and shine.

You see this in schoolyards where those who excel are picked on and bullied, in workplaces where those who try and want to get ahead are ostracised (socially excluded) and bad mouthed. This leads to a social atmosphere where many do not want to "make waves" or get "too big for their boots" and so succumb to this social thuggery.

Successful entrepreneur, Brad Sugars said it this way. What is wrong with Australians? In America I am driving my Cobra down the road, I stop for a guy crossing he looks at the car and says good on you buddy, now in Queensland Australia I am driving my yellow Ferrari, a guy on the side of the road yells at me Wanker!

Here I would say our Tall Poppy Syndrome sufferer felt threatened that Brad could drive a nice car and reacted abusively/aggressively as animals do when they feel threatened.

This is one thing that was extremely noticable in America on my trips there, even random strangers build up your confidence, they cheer you on, tell you that you can do it. When I went to the States to try to get a wrestling contract with WWF/WCW people were congratulating me, telling me I am already there, and that I was going to make it.

Now contrast this with my own best friends when I was growing up, before I left I spoke with them individually, only one wished me luck, the others said you won't make it then proceeded to tell me every reason why I was not going to make it. Needless to say I never talked to them again - with friends like that who needs enemies.... right?

Tall Poppy Syndrome in action. If I succeeded then it would make them feel like failures, therefore for them it was preferrable if I failed, or even better yet if I never even tried to succeed. They would rather see a life long friend fail so that they feel vindicated (in their lack of "success") rather than cheer on and share in that friends triumph.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome extends throughout Australian culture to the point that it stifles innovation, excellence and the willingness to give it 100%.

One quote from an Australian author that I found particularly spot on as a performer was this;

As no one has so far come out publicly against Tall Poppies, their general characteristics can only be guessed at. Here are a few I have managed to ascertain:
1. Tall Poppies are just like you and me only more so.
2. Tall Poppies never live overseas. If they did, they would be known instead as Aussie Icons*.
3. Tall Poppy is the designation Australians give their enemies, just before attempting to destroy them.
*Provided, of course, that they still call Australia "home"."

- Robert Treborlang

With great restraint I will not write my personal views on this, it is enough to say that I heartily agree, especially with point #2.

To get ahead in Australia you must learn to ignore the failures who want to see you fail too, you must learn to ignore the Tall Poppy Syndrome and if you are an entertainer or artist get out and show the rest of the world your talents.

Tall Poppy Syndrome sufferers be buggered.


I have witnessed and experienced the 'Tall poppy syndrome', and it is something which is often used as an excuse to kind of 'nudge' you into a bit of a reality check, but I have noticed that most often the very same people who claim "I'm doing this for your own good, to keep you grounded", are the main offenders of "LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME... SEE WHAT I CAN DO, AND HAVE DONE". It can be very discouraging at times to be in the presence of a person of this character trait.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Traveling with kids - Port Douglas - a jewel in front of the Great Barrier Reef

Ask an Australian about Queensland and, there are always mentions of beautiful white sandy beaches, tropical weather, friendly people, activities galore and of course bugs... lots of bugs. Local mosquitoes are abundant and vicious in their tenacity, so a good repellent is an absolute must in your suitcase and with it, an anti-itch cream or spray.

We visited Port Douglas, about an hour’s drive from Cairns. We rented a car, and took off for the little but charming Port Douglas. The road was very good but it was quite curvy, and it be quite the tummy turner, as we experienced unfortunately. A distraction, like a DVD player or a hand-held video game might have been a good thing to bring along.

Once arrived at your destination, my advice to other globetrotting parents is to:

ONE - find the grocery store (Coles); it is conveniently priced, abundantly stocked with Australian and international products, and it stays open until 9pm.

TWO - pick up brochures and promotional material for a myriad of tours and attractions available locally.

THREE - relax at a cafe and meet the friendly locals, who are more than willing to give you all the 'insider information' about their beloved town.

Our stay in Port Douglas was short, but we made the most of it. We strolled down Four Mile

Beach, looking for seashells and visited the Wildlife Habitat, which is truly a gem of a zoo. AU$110 paid for one adult and three kids' tickets (three days), including an all you can eat lunch buffet (one day) and photo opportunity with the Habitat's Lorikeets… an amazing deal! Inside the Habitat, we had a chance to feed kangaroos and wallabies... a truly once in a lifetime experience.

Port Douglas is on my list to re-visit very soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Four seasons in one day

Melbourne is a city which is very similar to San Francisco. It's a city in love with the Arts, good coffee and trams. Its inhabitants pride themselves for being a bit left of center, and enjoy expressing this through their multi-colored hair, odd combinations of clothes and of course ardent opinions and points of view. Melbourne is also famous for having the rare ability of manifesting all four season in one calendar day.

The rule of thumb is, wear layers! I was given this advice accompanied with the stern look of 'I'm being very serious'. I chose to ignore the warning/advice at first, but after a few terrible and unexpected puddle dodging and water dancing, I learned my lesson.

I kid you not... I have driven into work accompanied by beautiful weather, and while getting my first cup of coffee a 'super stom' has swept in and began pounding our office's tin roof so hard that I was convinced any moment it would literally cave in.

Back in March of this year there was a massive storm which hit the city so hard, that the downtown area (here called the CBD) became a criss cross of raging rivers, drowning basements and low level parking garages. I picked up my daughters from Serbian school that day, and on the way home in a record time of 15 minutes, the car was pounded by hail the size of golf balls. We screamed all the way home. In other parts of the city, the hail was even bigger and cars were completely crushed by their impact. Check out this footage, it's unbelievable.

I have finally gotten into the swing of things, and I travel with several jackets in the back of my car, including an extra pair of shoes, a wrap (my best friend in the 'layers' game) and of course an abundance of umbrellas. Ready for pretty much anything, anytime; I'm practically a Boy Scout, since I live by their motto "Be prepared". I don't have bathing suits in my mobile closet, but I should, since summer is just around the corner... and then, I'll add sunscreen, hats, flip flops (here called thongs, haha), water, etc. etc.

Melbourne, Australia = be prepared for anything.