The Curse of Success (Or, What Have You Done For Me Lately?)

Published March 3rd, 2015     In Categories: Articles, Ask Chad


In the 22 years I’ve called Los Angeles home, I’ve had the good fortune of being around some VERY successful people.

I’ve worked with multiple Oscar winners, Grammy winners, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, and owners of multi-million dollar companies. My own WIFE even has two Oscars.

In knowing people who have literally been THE most successful people in their field, one thing has captivated me above all the others: How do they REPEAT success?

I’m most fascinated by this because of my own shortcomings in that area.

Take writing, for instance. I’ve written exactly 4 guest blogs in the last 2 plus years, and zero blogs since launching my own re-designed website over a year ago…Not exactly prolific writing.

I could blame the fact that I’m busy (who isn’t?), but we all know we are never too busy for something we want to do. So what’s been holding me back?

In part, I think it was the fact that all 4 guest blogs were pretty darned successful. Thousands of likes and shares, and 2 blogs being re-run on Yahoo.  Good stuff.

This modicum of success should have encouraged me to write day and night and put out a lot more content. But it didn’t. Why?

Which leads me back to my sub-title, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”

No matter how popular or well received something is its relevance is fleeting.

We all have VERY short attention spans, (TL:DR anyone?).

I’ve learned that success is a process, not a place.

It sounds clichéd, but success, like life, “is a journey, not a destination.”

When we are young, we are all about the process of mastering something; perhaps a sport, or a musical instrument, or getting straight A’s.

And we work and we practice and we strive undaunted until we do, indeed, achieve the success we are looking for.

But for some of us, dangerous thoughts creep in. We start to define ourselves by that (now past) success, and we stop working and practicing and striving.

Or perhaps more insidiously, we think, “I’ll never be that successful again, so why even try?”

Which brings me back to my clients.

Once you’ve won an Oscar, or have a multi-Platinum selling album, how do you have the courage to go on, knowing you’ll likely NEVER be that successful again?

I’ve learned that truly successful people do not define themselves by their successes, but by their work.

They are musicians, not “Rock Hall of Famers”…they continue to make music because that’s who they are. They are filmmakers, not “Oscar winners”…. they continue to work in film because it’s what they do!

If I want to be a writer, I have to write, and I can’t be worried about the number of “Likes” or “Shares” I might get.

It works the same way in fitness. If you want to be 6% body fat or have a 300 lbs. bench press, you can’t worry about “what if I never get there”, because surely, you’ll be right.

You must give in to the process and understand that now matter how hard you strive, you may fail.

I am reminded of a favorite quote from President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Who do you want to be?

[Image: Mike Licht]