The Dark Side of Success

You’ve travelled from mantle to the stratosphere on nothing less than raw ambition, grit and talent, and you’re reaping the fruits of your labour. Like King Midas of Greek mythology, everything you touch turns into gold. Yet, as was the case with King Midas, you didn’t foresee the consequences of your success, and you’re now reaping its sorrows.  Examples of those who have reached the dizzying heights of success – only to crash and burn - are plenty and, though the reasons for their change in fortune are many and varied, they serve as salutary lessons to all of us. Below are three examples of the dark side of success:.

You Start Believing Your Own Press

You’ll typically be wined and dined by others keen to benefit from your Midas touch. Invitations will pour in, you’ll be invited to speak at events, journalists will want to write about you, and you’ll enjoy seemingly never ending plaudits about your achievements. Myths and legends will be hatched. Before long, you’ll be lulled into a false sense of superiority. What may have started as healthy satisfaction with your achievements soon leads to a sense of entitlement and hubris with its associated toxic symptoms ( for example cheating and abusing others). 

Lesson: There’s a fine line between satisfaction with one’s achievements and hubris. Hubris often comes before a fall – so take a reality check now and then; set aside time for honest reflection to help you guard against this toxic trait.

Once you Reach the Summit, you Become Complacent

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” Andy Grove

Getting to the top of the mountain is a long and arduous endeavour. Once there,  you can enjoy the vista, the result of your hard graft and determination - you’ve earned it. However, the satisfaction of having conquered the summit soon dissipates leaving you complacent.  It is this complacency that is so often the cause of failure in those who have achieved success.

Lesson: Once you have achieved your goal, it’s important not to be complacent. Instead, move your ‘finishing line’ forwards – scale more mountains - so you can keep going and keep growing.

You Over-Commit

With success comes attention from all manner of sources. Invitations to address audiences, give interviews or write articles are typical requests made of the successful. The flattery may lead you to accept many or all of the invitations, or you may simply accept them as a way of expressing your gratitude for the attention. Unfortunately, these invitations come at a personal cost. Accepting them will require your time, effort and energy, leading you to reduce the focus place on your business.

Lesson: Be ruthless about saying ‘no’ to invitations that bring little-added value to your business.

It’s important to celebrate and savour success once it’s been achieved. However, with success comes responsibility, certainly to yourself, but also to those that have helped to make your success possible and who may be affected by your future actions. By bearing in mind the above traps, you will be better placed to retain your Midas touch and not fall victim to the dark side of success.

Bleacher Report