So much is written about learning from failure, but much less of failing from success.
This weekend, I had the extraordinary opportunity to speak and attend the National Speakers Association’s Business Accelerator Lab. It was inspiring to get to know Nido Quebein, President of High Point University, along with his concept of Productive Failures and Unproductive Success. Success can slow us down in other areas as well.
5 Ways Success is Holding You Back
“Success doesn’t come to you; you must go to it. The trail is well-traveled and well-marked. If you want to walk it, you can.” -Nido Quebein
1. You Don’t Take the Time to Understand It
It’s easy to celebrate and move on, instead of taking the time to truly dissect the specific elements that led to that success. Nido explains that success is often wasted, when we miss the opportunity to learn from it. When you succeed at something big, was it due to the market, the price, the positioning, the long hours, the social media campaign, the right leadership, the right employees? If you don’t slow down to truly understand what worked, you’re much less likely to succeed in the next endeavor. Failure is much more likely to give us the pause needed to think, regroup, and improve.
2. You Believe Your Own PR
I see this happen with leaders at all levels. People sing their praises and they start humming along. Of course your leadership bio makes you sound like a rock star. Never forget that it’s only one side of the story.
3. You Stop Asking for Feedback
When the fist bumps are flying it’s easy to get caught up in the glory. Make it easy for people to share their insights. First say “Thank you,” and then ask for specifics. “Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed my presentation. What part of it resonated the most? Which parts do you think I should change?” “I’m glad you like the idea, but all ideas can be improved. What am I not considering here? Where are the holes?”
4. You Over-Emphasize Your Own Contribution
I’m amazed at how many leaders have the audacity to attribute the team’s success to their leadership. Hopefully, you had something to do with it. But you’d better figure out what everyone did behind the scenes to make it happen, including your peers. Overlooking their specific contribution will make them less likely to follow you as enthusiastically the next time. And, if you don’t know just what they did, you won’t know what to do again.
5. You Lose Ambition
Don’t get distracted by your one-hit wonder. It’s easy to think you can never top your last big success. Many don’t. Others do. Remain confident that there’s more success where that came from and go for it. Elizabeth Gilbert wrestles with this challenge in her TED talk: Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating.
Learn to maximize the power of sucessful success and your world will change exponentially.