What is the Tall Poppy Syndrome? | Di Downie - The Ideas Diva.Shaping your ideas into reality

What is the Tall Poppy Syndrome?

Born within the limitations and scope of a small well, there lived a frog who perceived the world to be as shallow and limited as the well. His world was small, and so he decided one day to climb out of the well to see what was outside that small circle of light at the top of his world. As he climbed out, all the other frogs told him he shouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it, how bad it would be and then started to pull the frog back down as he climbed higher.  The frog got out and discovered a whole world so different from the well. When he went back to tell the other frogs they still ostracized him 

Today, I will tell you how we human beings, just like frogs, might have a similar mindset. That how frogs, just like human beings, pull down any frog escaping from the well. But before starting the discussion about the Tall Poppy Syndrome, let me conclude the frog’s story with one simple lesson.

“The Frogs in the Well have no idea about the ocean.”

Didownie- we think too small


Image Courtesy: Lifehack Quotes

The Tall Poppy Syndrome

Often we don’t recognize that the tall poppy syndrome is alive and well. The Tall Poppy Syndrome has meant different things to different countries, and in fact, different things to people living inthe same country. It is a highly relative term, and let me explain to you what it means here in Australia.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome, as Wikipedia says, is a social phenomenon where people of genuine merit are resented, criticized and socially attacked for the talent (or achievements) that elevates them above from their peers.

There are different names given to the tall poppy syndrome, which includes:

  • Jealousy of ‘success.’
  • A sheer display of ‘stupidity.’
  • A proof of ‘ignorance.’
  • A simple way to confront the limitations of some ‘traditional’ conceptions.

I would first like to explain how Australians have interpreted Tall Poppy! Let me give you an example here. If you are in America and you are talking about Tall Poppy, then you are probably discussing the ‘Tall Poppy Plant’-an amazing plant having some beautiful red or yellow color flowers at the top. But if you are using Tall Poppy in Australia, then maybe you are using it as a sign to warn someone for ‘Not getting taller to you’ (or else you will chop them). A lot of Australians have this hidden agenda that if you are a bit lower to them, then it is completely fine but if you exceed, become successful or grow better than them, then you tend to move out of the circle of mediocre. So you no longer remain the acceptable one… and there is no group feeling left. You are left alone because you rise above the crowd. YES REDICULOUS!!!

In Australia we like to see success; however, we like people to be at the same level as we are now. It is very innate that we want to belong; this vibe keeps us the same as everyone around us. We want to have this sense of belongingness and similarity in our respective communities. But just like frogs, we are not happy if someone simply rises above the situation and grows successfully. For instance, I see women who are almost busting out of their skins to share what they know, yet cannot due the Tall Poppy energy working around them. So what can you do to stand, be who truly  are,  to burst out of our  skins, to share what we know and be more? Well, I have a solution for you!

Tall Poppy Syndrome

When it is good for the society

When it is Bad for the society

It is good when it is ‘Constructive’ for the society. Bad  as a product of jealousy.
When we allow our values and culture diversity to flourish. When we limit ourselves within the cocoons of traditions.
When observation play a major role in forming a collective opinion. When we make it an excuse to treat someone like dirt.

MY SOLUTION: Dealing with the Tall Poppy Syndrome

  • Have that constant awareness and conscienceness alive in you:

We need to have this constant awareness to be more and be extraordinary.It is this awareness that motivates us to grow and to be the best in our respective capabilities.Awareness is about what you are thinking and believing.  Question yourself, question people around you, allow others to question you. Be aware of your thinking and your ideas.


Your People Matter the Most:

I say it in almost in every blog, surround ourselves with people who will ask ourselves questions and ask more of us than what you do of ourselves.

Surround yourselves with people who believe in you, who support you and at the same time, the people who are also ready to push you a little further than you are now. Sometimes, you might not like the push but in order to grow, you need to push yourself a little further. You CANNOT surround yourself with “FROGS”!!!


For people to grow and be more, we need to put ourselves in environment where we can change at our speed, with no judgment. There is absolutely no problem in slow learning…as far as you are a great learner, speed doesn’t matter AT ALL!  It is the efficiency of your time that matters.  Time is all we have.


I say “if you rush you are in scarcity of time”.


  • Be your own JUDGE:

Your best judge is YOURSELF! When we are in a mediocre environment, we put a lot of weight on how we will be perceived by other people. Perceptions are fine, but self-respect (especiallytaking your own stand) is very important. Do you have YOU for your own support? THINK!!!


  • Ask yourself:

In whatever condition you are- ask yourself ‘is this where I wanted to be or am I here because my people or my community wanted to see me here”? You will get the answer!  Ask a clear question of yourself.

It doesn’t matter whether we are Australians, Americans, Indians, if we live anywhere, what matters the most is our tendency to allow GROWTH in our respective lives. We have to realize that human civilization has been the greatest of all- it has been a history of achievers and winners. During my BRAND IT experience, I have learned that victory has no taste when there is no one to appreciate it. You need to keep your set of people and values close to your heart in order to enjoy the best dose of victory.

By the way, you can still pre-ordered my new book “A High Heels Paradox”, now a No 1 International Bestseller for .99C.

Also, and Im about to brag,  because I know I’m amongst people who will support me and can support me.  This book is a number one best seller in three categories in the US and two categories in Australia… not bad hey!!!


Here you go with the links:

US- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K6NI2SC/
AU- https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01K6NI2SC
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01K6NI2SC

Have the best day! Di

Have the best day!


8 thoughts on “What is the Tall Poppy Syndrome?”

  1. Wonderfull message and oh so true. I like to think we have changed a lot since the Depression but not so hey. Look forward to reading your book!

    1. Hello Margaret and thank you for dropping by.

      Tall Poppy Syndrome is a fascinating subject and one that we all need to flow around to be more and do what we love.

      My book has a little about this subject and I could write a book on this subject alone

      Thank you Margaret


  2. I and Amelie had such a great time with you in NYC, Di! I especially enjoyed our walk-and-talk in Central Park that day and this topic is absolutely one of the highlights of our many discussions. Although it’s a syndrome that is widely spread in society, often we fail to recognise that we are falling into its trap. Hence, thank you for bringing it up to make everyone aware and do a self-check as I did. You are such an inspiration, Di! Keep up the good work!!!

    1. Hello Cherry,

      Yes the thing is we need to be aware of how this syndrome is affecting us and what are the strategies we have to live around it and amongst it to still be more every day.

      Loved spending time with you and Amelie.

      Have to do it again in another part of the world

      Love to you all


  3. Loved this whole thing Di and yes the T.P.S. is alive and well in Oz very much so but women are still being willing to grow and climb up to touch the sun and shine. Great piece, loved it.

    1. Hi Di:
      The terminology is different in America and other parts of the world but there is a tendency to disparage any person who has achieved great prominence or wealth than we do … some being more aggressive than others but there are also many folks whom are covert about it and their “tall poppy” rhetoric comes out more subtlety in actions and words but is there nevertheless… nuff said… one could write volumes on the subject and human nature. Thanks for sharing Di… Good to see you. Missed you in New York (I’d already left) … perhaps see you another time..

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What is the Tall Poppy Syndrome? | Di Downie – The Ideas Diva.Shaping your ideas into reality