So, you’re steaming because this other dude keeps getting everything he wants and you keep getting left behind. He’s getting all the promotions and sweet gigs and awesome stuff and you’re getting bupkiss.

Why is everything so unfair?

Maybe things are actually unfair. Maybe he’s getting ahead because he’s male, the firstborn child, or because he comes from a well-to-do family. Or maybe he’s doing all sorts of things you’re not.

(For the record “he” could also be a “she” but I just decided to pick a gender rather than have to use “they” throughout this entire article. So, no, it’s not necessarily because he’s male.)

Let’s focus on the things you can change.

Here are some of the reasons the other guy is getting ahead instead of you – that you can do yourself to make a difference in your own life.

He does things that aren’t his job. Nobody ever got ahead by doing the bare minimum. People who get ahead go above and beyond the call of duty. The other guy washes the pile of dishes someone else left in the office sink, he goes out and picks up something the team needs without being asked, he comes in on Saturday to finish a project on time. When was the last time you went above and beyond?

He networks. He’s out there making friends, smiling, shaking hands, and remembering names. He brings pastries for the group and picks up coffees, he hosts people in his home, goes to parties, and never arrives empty handed. Are you sitting at home watching The Bachelorette when you should be networking?

He’s generous with his time and resources. He does people favours. He helps friends move and build websites – or with whatever he is able. People think he’s awesome because he is kind and helpful, and they are often kind and helpful in return. When a plum position comes up at an awesome company that is just right for him, he’s the first person they think of. Not always, but often. What do you give others?

He shares his ideas. Some people jealously guard ideas as though they are a precious, limited resource. Others share them, because they know there are always more where that came from and, anyway, it’s the execution that matters. Are you the former or the latter? Sometimes your idea is better off in another person’s hands, more capable of executing it. Putting ideas out there generates more ideas, some of which come back your way.

He’s a good communicator. Communication skills are the most in-demand soft skill among hiring managers, including listening skills. He listens, he speaks well, and he writes well. Writing is one skill that will set you head and shoulders above the competition if you can master it. There are very few jobs in which writing ability will not serve you well. It’s also an absolute necessity for the job search. How well do you communicate?

He works well with others. He’s easy to get along with, gives credit where it’s due but doesn’t insist on getting it, isn’t a control freak, and does his share, or more than his share. People want him on their team because he is a valuable asset to every project. Are you a joy to work with?

He doesn’t make excuses. Successful guy doesn’t say he couldn’t print something because the printer is broken. If the printer is broken he either gets it fixed or finds another printer. Are you making excuses or getting things done?

He’s enthusiastic. Successful guy approaches projects, learning opportunities, and people with enthusiasm. He isn’t the guy sitting in a corner looking bored. We once asked hiring managers what would sway their decision and cause them to choose one candidate over another, all other things being equal. The majority said they would choose the more enthusiastic candidate. Don’t be the person in the corner.

He’s a jerk. OK, this is actually a possibility. While almost all the successful people I know are nice and hardworking, and there is scientific evidence to support the idea that that good people do succeed, there is also evidence to suggest that those who think the jerks are more likely to get to the corner office might be onto something. One study found that disagreeable people who seem to dislike everything participate in fewer things, which allows them to focus more of their time and energy on their specific areas of expertise. Separate research also shows that narcissists do better in job interviews than regular people.

That being said, success means many things and if you’re a jerk you have to live with yourself, which is hardly an enviable position to be in. Be nice. You’ll be happier in the long run.