The Wilting Tall Poppy

August 21, 2019

Tall Poppy syndrome is holding New Zealanders back, here’s how I want to help end it.

Although I wasn’t born in New Zealand, I’m fortunate to be able to call myself a Kiwi. While my father was English, mum grew up on the Thames coast and the people on her mother's side were some of the early Pākehā settlers who started a new life in the South Island, before gradually moving North over the following generations.

I spent my childhood between the UK and New Zealand and I’ve been living here permanently for the past 25 years. One of the things that surprised me the most as a kid when I first moved here and continues to surprise me today is the “tall poppy” syndrome.
According to Wikipedia, “The tall poppy syndrome describes aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down, strung up or criticized because they have been classified as superior to their peers”.

The first reference to Tall Poppies that we know of was an account written by a man called Livy who wrote that a tyrannical Roman King gave a non-verbal instruction to his son by taking a messenger into his garden to observe him cutting off the heads of the tall poppies with a stick. When the messenger returned to the son and explained what his father had done, the son understood what the message meant and he put the most successful and eminent men to death in the city of Gabii (18 km east of Rome).

While the origins of the term are ancient, it seems to be a concept that is still alive today. However, for the first time I believe that there is a change in the air and the wind is blowing in from a new direction.

It would seem that with the democratisation of information from around the world disseminated on free social media platforms, that there has been a groundswell of people interested in success and entrepreneurship.

This is one of the wonders of our age, as I believe the fear of standing out has hindered more young men and women from reaching their potential than anything else. While social media has also provided a platform for trolls and haters to spew their lonely bile, the zygote of human consciousness is shifting which means that if you have the courage to seek success you will find a tribe that will support you and cheer you on.

We live at an amazing point in history where it has never been easier to start a new business or to step out and grab life by the throat.

I’ve always been someone who wants other people to do well and celebrate success. When I’ve read about someone who has achieved incredible things, I’ve always wanted to ask them if they would share their story. I figured that I might just may learn something that could improve my life.

So in celebration of tall poppies around the world, I’m going to be interviewing as many successful people as I can and sharing their stories with you. Because I’ve got a sense of humour, we may also collect a montage of all the hateful messages we receive on our social pages to share and shame for everyone’s amusement. Beyond that and more importantly, I hope that young budding entrepreneurs will see this and realise that success is nothing to be afraid of!

Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt me"

Want to be on the show, do you have questions you'd like to ask me? Get in touch with my team via e.ruddy@duvalgroup.co.nz Keep an eye on my Facebook page where we'll share these interviews LIVE.

  • Kenyon Clarke New Zealand
  • Kenyon Clarke New Zealand

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