When it comes to career and business, success is the second most difficult objective to achieve; even more difficult is meeting the challenge to maintain it. The world is full of “one-hit wonders.” How many times have we witnessed individuals rise to lofty levels of success, only to let it all slip away? People who are driven by a burning sense of urgency to do what needs to be done to be successful, then often tumble into an attitude of ambivalence when it is achieved. They are willing to risk everything to be successful, but become unwilling to take any risk to retain it. They leverage change as a path to success, then suddenly begin to resist any change.
There’s a reason for this dichotomous behavior: Many confuse success with the end of the road, when it is really only a sign that they are on the right road.
We have all heard the apothegm that “success is fleeting.” The fact that success does slip through the fingers of many seems to give veracity to the saying, but it is wrong. Success is a constant presence that is always there for the taking. It is the willingness to continue to do the things it took to be successful that is fleeting. Success has a way of seducing those who have it into believing it is a “right”, rather than a validation of their continued efforts. It is the failure caused by this attitude of entitlement that gives the impression that success is fleeting.
The Secret to Retaining Success Once it is Achieved
The key to maintaining success – indeed increasing it – is to view it as a signpost not a goalpost.
The best protection against losing hard-earned success is to adopt a strict “peer-pressure” mentality. But I am not espousing the typical concept of peer-pressure that encourages comparison with how we are doing vis-à-vis others. Rather, we should be our own peer pressure by comparing our past performance with how we are doing today. Once we have achieved a measure of success, if we constantly compare what we did in the past with what we are doing now and dedicate ourselves to continuously getting better, then not only will our success be maintained, it will likely grow. When relentlessly focused on the goal of getting better at everything we do, we will defend our success and be constantly moving forward toward even more success.
Success is lasting so long as the effort to keep and increase it is as strong as the determination to achieve it in the first place. The problem is that many prepare to achieve success, but few prepare to deal with the way success has a way of weakening the behavior that spawned it.
The path to maintaining success – indeed, increasing it – is to constantly challenge ourselves and our performance against a set of questions:
- Do we spend more time thinking about how successful we have become, rather than how much more successful we can be in the future?
- Are we beginning to view change as more of a threat than an opportunity?
- Is risk that was once embraced as the path to success now avoided and replaced with the comfort of certainty?
- Are we satisfied with what worked yesterday, rather than seeking new ways that will work better tomorrow?
In the end, there is a much better chance to retain the success if we understand and appreciate that, as difficult as success is to achieve, it takes even more perseverance to preserve it.