Why Do People Love to Hate Those Out Front?

by Micheal Burt

courtesy of Getty Images

I spent a decade as a head women’s basketball coach, leading what would become one of the top basketball programs in the Southeast — and now in the country. Our staff and players worked tirelessly year in and year out with little-to-no sleep, weekends and weekdays, early mornings and late nights, all in pursuit of winning championships and building people. I loved almost every minute of it.

If only I could have spent the majority of my time doing what I truly loved, which was player development, strategy, bigger thinking and building a program. But I couldn’t. As a head coach, I spent most of my time deflecting the negativity of everyone and everything that would stand in the way of accomplishment. From parents who wanted to see their child play more, to teachers who hated sports, to other coaches who just wanted more spotlight, to administrators who wanted control, and on and on and on.

Very seldom was there a day I could just focus on the advancement of the program, which was the mission of why I was there to begin with. The end-of-the-year banquet became a nightmare for me, as I always left feeling deflated and under-appreciated by somebody who just wasn’t happy about something.

Why do people love to hate those who step out and lead? It’s an age-old question: Why can’t people just be happy for others when they succeed? Our society loves to see winners fail, celebrities fall from grace and the neighbor they’ve always disliked get evicted. It’s a vicious cycle of scarcity thinking that permeates our world with a lose-lose mindset. There are no winners when you wake up with one mission: to tear other people down.

I applaud those who get in the ring and lead. We won’t always agree with them, but it’s easy to be Monday-morning quarterbacks. We should check the seed of our discontent with others and get back to focusing on our lives instead of getting caught up in the weaknesses of others (as we all have weaknesses). We should be happy we have opportunity there for us to take. It’s just up to us to take it.

The next time you start to criticize someone who is out front trying to advance, remember these words from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worth cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victor of defeat.”

As Stephen Covey says, “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.”


Micheal Burt is a coach to some of the top-performing people and organizations in the country. His unique background of winning has led many to refer to him as a “coachepreneur” with a deep-focused coaching acumen and a business and entrepreneurial mindset. He is the author of seven books, including “This Ain’t No Practice Life” and the upcoming “Zebras and Cheetahs –  Look Different, Run Faster, and Be Agile” with Dr. Colby Jubenville. He is also the host of “The Coach Micheal Burt Radio Show” on WLAC, the FoxNews Affiliate in Nashville, Tenn., and can be heard globally on iHeartRadio. Contact: Coach Micheal Burt, CEO of Micheal Burt Enterprises, LLC, at coach@coachburt.com or 615.225.8380. Twitter: @michealburt