Basement People & Balcony People

By Jim Whitt

“A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.” —  Dan Rather 

My friend Becky Teeter shared a book with me written by Joyce Landorf entitled Balcony People. It describes people as either balcony people or basement people. She uses a metaphor comparing life to a glass sphere, much like a fish bowl. In the bottom two thirds of the sphere is dark, murky water. In the top third is clean, fresh air.

The basement people reside in the murk and the mire. They not only are on a dead end street but they insist on trying to pull others down with them. On the other hand, the balcony people live in the clean, fresh air of the upper third, encouraging others to join them. If you’re like me you know both groups.

Why do people insist on trying to drag others down? It’s because they can’t see themselves being on any higher plane than the one they now inhabit. Therefore, they want to level the playing field. So, instead of climbing a mountain of their own, they try to keep us from climbing ours.

On the other hand balcony people constantly encourage us — they provoke us to aspire to loftier heights. Balcony people are the affirmers — they tell us that we can do it. They want us to achieve more — to be more successful. Why do balcony people want us to succeed? Because they are successful themselves.

They aren’t threatened by our success so they can genuinely encourage us. As far as they’re concerned there’s plenty of room at the top for everybody.

“A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.” How about us? Where do we reside? The basement or the balcony?

*This is an excerpt from Road Signs For Success: 99 Purposeful Principles To Guide You On The Road To Reaching Your Full Potential ©1993 Jim Whitt

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