Success is great. I love it. When you hit that moment you’ve been fighting all day, week, month, and year for it feels incredible. Repeating that success over and over again, even better. But its dangerous. I’m not saying you cannot be successful. I’m saying beware of how it can change you.
We can be tempted with repeated success to believe we’ve found the magic formula that all others can learn from. To the point that we no longer subject ourselves to human fallibility. When we ignore our own fallibility, we stop learning.
You will find this to be completely devastating to the creative process of yourself, team, and social group when you slip into infallibility. It breeds arrogance. We begin to screen out the negative feedback we’re getting that can help us and amplify the cheers instead. We start to believe that we’re not subject to the same constraints as others. We slowly begin to move to our own islands and get comfortable with our isolation.
If you know your history, you know that Napoleon Bonaparte was an incredible general and for a time very successful at winning battles. Until the winning became his undoing because that was all he wanted to learn from and could see. On the morning of the battle for Waterloo that all changed. He underestimated Wellington as a bad general and his own battle plans being for superior. He underestimated the English as bad soldiers. That Sunday June 18th, 1815 Napoleon lost to two British led armies. Exiled soon after he found himself having to abdicated his thrown. A painful lesson taught to him by arrogance.
We need to reflect and pause after our successes and ask:
- Has this success made you less receptive to alternative approaches or angles?
- Where might some humility benefit you?
- Are you still taking council in others and being a good getter of feedback?
A good getter is someone that is very active in asking others and anyone for feedback versus waiting for it to find them. Its a best practice you can adopt regularly to keep your ego from adversely affecting your judgement. It keeps your arrogance from closing you off from your social circles and helps you focus on your problem from other angles other than your own.
We live in a world and work in a world that is ALWAYS CHANGING. This means that every idea or ideal you’ve come up for your success, will eventually be the wrong one. The longer you live in your own arrogance, the sooner that time will come. And, you will learn.