The hidden consequences of Success
I have been thinking a lot about success recently.
I think success is a very interesting dynamic for a business owner.
Every blog I seem to read these days is about failure. It seems that “failure” is the new vogue and to succeed then you have to be prepared to fail.
I love listening to the “How I Built This” podcast in fact I have become obsessed with it for one reason.
The host would spend most of the show discussing the challenges and failures of the businesses that they had built and the entrepreneur would be invigorated reliving the tough times, discussing their worst days and how they overcame them. Every episode was like a movie and they are playing the lead character, they are the super hero.
And then the host Guy Raz towards the end usually asks something along the lines of:
“How are you dealing with the success, now that you have achieved it?”
This is my favourite bit:
Deadly silence and the guest starts scrambling for an answer they think will make them look good. You can feel the tension building. They don’t often have an answer if you listen closely.
See this is where success comes in
I meet so many entrepreneurs and business owners and in reality they struggle to find contentment after their big pay day.
Many of them found the failure and challenges invigorating. They lived in the moment building these empires and they thrived on the challenges. Failure was just part of the game “every day” and almost a price of admission. Some even just stay in the game because they don’t know what it will look like outside of their business. ‘
But “Success” as most people know it is hard to deal with and can sometimes sneak up on you.
Imagine, you have built a business living hand to mouth throughout all this time and suddenly someone comes to you with a big cheque for your business.
How would you do deal with that?
My version of Success
Success takes real depth to look at yourself and challenge what it is for you to be contented. It takes difficult conversations about what is “enough” and what life looks like when you don’t need to worry about paying the bills for your family or your staff. It needs to be life on your terms and not what what we think it should be according to society’s expectations.
I see so much fear around the final months before someone sells their business and rightly so. They know what is coming, they just don’t know how they will deal with it or even spend the fruits of their labour. Why do you think most business exits just end up in cash!
And this isn’t just in business.
I could list you about 20 flawed geniuses (including the usual suspects from sport) who had everything they dreamed of but struggled to deal with it.
Since I started writing this, I watched the documentary Champs on Amazon and Mike Tyson was the ultimate example of someone who could not handle success.
People underestimate some of the issues
Entourages or clingers on
Long lost friends and family suddenly appearing
Professionals (or sales people) ready to take advantage
You may laugh but succeeding with business often comes at some kind of cost either emotionally or physically.
This is where clarity of purpose comes in
The 10% of people who answer Guy Raz’s question at the end clearly have been through this process of “defining their success” . They have answered the difficult questions and they know what good looks like for them and their loved ones.
They leave their corporate ego at the door and when they step back they are proud of their business and the future - not afraid of it.
So when you next hear about “failure” think of the other side. Think of the ones struggling to cope with what we all think is “success”.
This is the real hidden enemy for business owners.