Success is sweet only for today.
-David Abioye (davidabioye.org.ng)

Yep. I didn’t make a mistake with that title. Overcoming Success. Many of us know one or two about overcoming failure. Failure, that undesirable thing that makes you feel like shit. You want to get rid of it. You don’t want it to ever dog your footsteps. You want all your stories told and ended without a taint or hint of failure. We hate failure. And in some sense rightly so. But in my previous post, Failure Is A Situation, Never A Person, we learn that failure is part of the learning curve. It is the foundation upon which most successes are built. We learn too that we can make failure work for us. Read that post to learn more.

The advantages of success are obvious. That is why we all want it. The recognition, fame, monetary rewards, more freedom- all else. But like failure, success comes with its own challenges. Success, more than failure has the capacity to strangle you if not handled well. We have heard of celebrities who go from grass to grace only to return to the grass again. How pathetic! This matter presses upon us urgently. We must learn how to handle success. We must learn how to manage success. We must learn how to survive success. It is not only celebrities are immune to the downside of success; companies that were once a household name have lost relevance and disappeared into oblivion. How did that happen? In our personal lives as well, there are successes we once enjoyed with are no longer there. Perhaps, you lost weight and got into shape, or you won prizes in school, or you made certain amounts of money that you once dreamed of, or you got promoted. Name it. But now they have become part of history- of good old days. And you know, it happens with religious movements too. In the Christian circle, there were once fiery movements and revivals which are no longer with us today. In a sentence, they lost relevance.

Coach Rick Pitino says in book, Success Is a Choice: Ten Steps To Overachieving in Business and Life,

Success can be a minefield, full of hidden obstacles and booby traps just waiting to trip you up. Success never comes sugar coated with guarantees of longevity. A few missteps, a few moments of letting down our guard- this is a poisonous pill that, if swallowed, can turn long-striven-for success into overnight failure.

Why Does It Happen?

Why does success destroy most people? Why does it fritter away in the hands of some? We examine four major reasons:
1.They developed hydrocephalus(!) Well for the non-medical persons, hydrocephalus is a medical condition in which a person (mostly infants) have a rapid growth of the head with a small face. Big head! And there goes oft-quoted saying: “Pride goes before a fall.” The temptation to pride is appealing to the human nature. Pride comes in insidiously and is something that must be watched against. Being successful does not make one different in essence from another. I love the first part of 1 Corinthians 4:7, where Paul put this questions to the Corinthians who were puffed up, “Who make thee to differ from another?” You might have been changed in the process of achieving your goals, (for example, you eliminated some bad habits which others still grapple with) but that does not mean you have become special above others. Success is based on principles. And principles are universal. Anyone who puts the principles to work will get the same result. And anyone who works with better principles will get better results. It almost that simple. The exceptions are rare. Thus, a self-inflated sense of importance is merely a deception. Some, drunk with the poison of their success lose their sense of reason and morality and attempt things that are clearly destructive. Take for example, the celebrity athlete who goes on a partying spree after winning a title. He drinks himself to stupor, starts a promiscuous lifestyle or goes on drugs. He compromises future successes in so doing. The poison of success he takes might eventually cut his life short. It has happened many times.

2.They became satisfied. They felt that they have reached the end of their journey, so they rested on their laurels. And? Others passed them by. So they lost their once cherished success. They decided to take it easy and they fell back into the bad habits which they overcame in the process of achieving the success they dreamed of. They stopped improving and moving forward. They ended their journey abruptly. They undid their success and undid themselves.

3.They listened to sycophants. Success brings all kinds of people around you- all kinds of them. Some of these people will sincerely love you- perhaps a few of them . Others might be saboteurs- those who are jealous of you and hate you and want to bring you down. And others still come around you to curry your favor. They do not really have your interest at heart. They are after you for what they can get out of you. Once they get it, they leave. They come in the guise of being your praise singers. They tell you what you want to hear and not what you should hear. I think they are more dangerous than your haters because they cannot easily be identified. Their presence blurs the distinction between the good and bad people. If you listen to them enough, you begin soak in their words; so you lose balance and fall. It is only the truth that can set free. If you don’t love the truth, you are prey to these kinds of people.

4.They lost focus. Success comes with a lot of things to manage that can create stress- the media demanding for your attention, people waiting in line for your attention, saboteurs spreading false news about you, several opportunities knocking at your door, etc. The successful person things who cannot keep things and in check will become overwhelmed and burnt out. The achiever who does understand that his life consists not only of career but of other aspects as well will sink. Eventually, failure in other aspects of his life will encroach on his success and swallow it up. It is almost impossible these days to hear of a celebrity actor or actress whose marriage is not in shambles. Success comes with sacrifice. And some might just be too costly if the success will not be sustained in the long run. This is not to discourage thinking and dreaming big, but the costs must be weighed.

How To Overcome

1.Celebrate success. Rejoice and acknowledge that you have a worthwhile achievement but indulge yourself. Admit that success came because you worked for it and not because of luck. Show gratitude for all those who have contributed to your success one or another. Thank God.
2.Set new goals. Success is a journey and not a destination. Catch new vision. Strive to work harder and be more efficient. Dispose success for the next level. Renew your motivation and commitment to better than before.
3.Learn from your success. Learn from the failures you had along the way. Take inventory of the steps or methods that made you a success you can replicate them to produce the same result. If you cannot make the steps or methods better, at least use them again.
4.Keep things in balance. Life is not one-sided. You have your spiritual life, family life, financial life, your health, etc. not only your business or career. Make adjustments to ensure an area does not succeed to the detriment of another. Read books on the different aspects to know what changes to make to keep things in balance.
5.Support others. There are others who want to succeed as well. Be a mentor to them. Inspire them. Share the lessons you have learned with them.

Further reading:
1.Rick Pitino. Success is a Choice. Ten Steps To Overachieving In Business And Life. Broadway books. 1997
2.Karyn Greenstreet. How To Manage Success. Blog post at www.passionforbusiness.com
3.David Abioye. Managing Success. Blog post at www.davidabioye.org.ng

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