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The Problem with Success

It’s fun to win!!!! I’ve got to admit that I love winning. When my kids were little and we played Chutes and Ladders, I never let them win. They weren’t going to learn to lose from me. I once embarrassed my wife at a couple’s shower for yelling at a guy who wasn’t taking the shower games seriously enough. Has anyone else ever had to leave a baby shower??? Ok, ok. I know. I have a problem. But competing is like oxygen for me. 

We’ve been blessed to be a part of lots of successful teams and organizations, and I have enjoyed every moment. But I have to speak from experience here. Success can be challenging. We always want to win, but to say that is the goal is incomplete. Our goal is not merely to win, but it’s to perform our best. We focus more on how we do things than on the result. 

Complacency is the biggest threat that comes with success. Complacency refutes the growth mindset that is essential to us reaching our full potential. Successful organizations have a culture that values growth and improvement, but the more success you have the higher the chance that your resolve is dulled. Never sacrifice what you want most for what you want now. The long-term vision that you have for yourself must outweigh the short-term comfort you get from a moment of victory. 

Sometimes success can lead to arrogance and entitlement. Arrogant people, teams, and organizations believe they can do anything they want, whenever they want. Arrogance satisfies the hunger that made you successful in the first place. Entitlement fools you into believing you deserve something you haven’t earned. Both of these attitudes get you humbled real quick.

It’s not as easy to improve once you’re good at something. When you step into a new situation there are often easy opportunities and big chunks of improvement available. But once you have climbed the ladder, you have to turn over every rock looking for every little chance to get better. The margins for improvement narrow when you start winning. You must really be driven to improve if that’s what you want because it becomes harder the better you get. 

Losing, of course, is not fun. But losing does present opportunities. Most growth happens when you lose and fail. We teach, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” We get praised for championships, but I sometimes want to interrupt people and ask, “Do you have any idea how many times we had to lose to get that championship?” When you or your organization lose in life, never show fatigue, frustration, or failure. Embrace it instead. It’s all a part of the process of growing to ultimately reach your full potential. Keep grinding and visualize your successful future, which is just around the corner! 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

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