Failure and learning go hand in hand; or at least they are supposed to. In the face of not being successful, the very least you can do it amass your experiences, feedback, observations and add to your own body of knowledge. But hold on, aren’t these critical components worth being revisited, even after you have succeeded?
When faced with failure, we ask ourselves ‘what went wrong’, but when faced with success, do we ask ‘what went right’ with the same level of seriousness and intent? Success and failure, both extreme experiences, are often ‘deviations’ from the regular, and come with an expiry date. Then why is it that learning and failure share a much more intimate relationship in conventional wisdom and knowledge? The business world is filled with case studies, of both well-established MNCs and start-ups, which fizzle out after a single bout of success. Although all of us, individually and in groups, long for success an appreciation, we are often severely underprepared to manage success, once it comes knocking at our door. Success can quickly turn into an insecure burden, if there is trouble maintaining it, or if somebody better comes along. Not everyone is trained to endure the jealous and sometimes outright cynical critics and not-so-well-wishing colleagues. Furthermore, if the onset of success is simply used to replicate it, without truly understanding the delicate balance between skills, capability, external factors, luck, competition weakness and strength, that led to it in the first place, chances are, you’ll not be able to replicate it. Lastly, success might sometimes make us cocky; and we overplay our hand.
Luckily for you, we have put together a few pointers to ensure that your success translates into a crucial opportunity for learning, and at the same time, help you avoid some common pitfalls that follow immediately after success:
Be Intelligent Emotionally
Being able to handle your own, and others’ emotions and reaction to your success will help you remain level-headed and grounded. What they call ‘People Skills’ will be even more important, once the spotlight is on you; no matter how long. How you react to your success, in the short and long run, how you behave with others, and how effectively you use emotional intelligence to deal with the people around you are all important pointers of how long you will be able to sustain the new-found success.
Ask the tough questions
What worked? What could have you done better? How was the feedback? What skill came in handy? What skill could use improvement? How much of the outcome was solely dependent on you? How much did others contribute? Did you actually plan to reach this result, or did luck play a major role? Being successful often gives you a clean-chit from asking yourself these sorts of questions, but if you really want to learn and grow further, you know you need to systematically and objectively examine the answers.
To keep a check on if you are letting the success get to you, devise indicators to ensure you are in tune with yourself. They say people ‘change’ when they become successful, but they might not, if they are shown a reflection of this ‘change’. These could be close aides, friends, family, or yardsticks for taking decisions. Devise your own unique and personal indicators to tell you honestly if you are being confident or brash, assertive or arrogant, reasonable or irrational. The truest indicator is often asking yourself: are you focussed on winning again, or solving the problem at hand and learning and growing?
Being acquainted with success will often come in the company of increased responsibilities, communication, and your time, resources and attention will be stretched between more things than before. But if you do not want this to overwhelm you, and remain true to your goals and yourself, do not forget to bring the focus back to you once in a while. Make a conscious attempt, and cash in on every opportunity, to turn yourself into a better person, a better leader, a better communicator, and a better thinker.
Be open to alteration
Nothing is perfect. Hence, your creative idea/approach that projected you to success can surely be improved upon, and you should welcome such a change. Be open to scrutiny, suggestions and reflections to modify what you have achieved. It’s healthy to believe in yourself, and to bet on yourself, but not the point of assuming that you are formidable and invincible. What’s more, simply replicating what you have achieved once, will anyway not be a success in true spirit, hence, invite collaborations, and be open to growing and learning new things.
You might be successful, and right, today but remember you might not always be so – with no fault of your own. Hence, it becomes indispensable to fully understand your success – what was successful, how did it become successful, what worked, and why it worked. Success can trick us into believing that our skills, decisions, execution, planning and preparedness is better than it is really is. Documented evidence proves that success makes us more oblivious to its complex dynamics and tends to make us less reflective. To avoid falling into such a trap, this article, brilliantly suggests to integrate the ‘This Too Shall Pass’ (a saying commonly associated with building strength through failure and suffering) vibe in success as well. Once we truly realise that success is only fleeting, and much more similar to failure than we realise, assimilating it, and learning from it becomes much simpler.