Success is Harder than Failure
This post began as an email. It’s my response to a person who shared their mixed feelings regarding unexpected success and opportunity.
I’ve been thinking about our conversation regarding the problem of success and opportunity.
Those who succeed in unexpected ways know that success is harder than failure. We are excited with opportunities but they also feel uncomfortable, like new shoes. We should feel more gratitude and less anxiety.
When views were in the hundreds, writing Leadership Freak was easier. Today, with views in the millions, writing Leadership Freak feels a bit like new shoes. Additionally, opportunities come my way that exceed my expectations.
Yesterday, the leader of a 2 billion dollar government agency shook my hand and said, “I’m a huge fan.” It felt great. I also felt like hiding under the table.
Someone told me, when Leadership Freak started taking off, “Trust Yourself.” This morning, I share that with you. Trust yourself.
Don’t get lost in opportunites. Know yourself. Take time to reflect on who you are. Let who you are guide what you do.
Bring yourself to challenges and opportunities. Don’t bring someone else. Just bring you. If you want stress, try being someone else.
The classic story of David and Goliath has important lessons for leaders who face challenges and opportunities. (I don’t care if you think the story is fiction or fact. The lessons relate.)
David, a young shepherd, saw the challenge, Goliath. Those around him tried to tell him how to face the challenge.
They said, “Put on armor; use this sword.” They wanted him to do it their way, even though they were unwilling to face the challenge themselves.
Ultimately David faced the challenge his way, with a sling and a stone. He brought himself.
I’m a man of faith so my personal lists begins, Trust God. Regardless of your faith, my suggests remain.
How can leaders face the challenges of unexpected success and opportunity?
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Congratulations on both your success, and your practice of managing that success!
And I enjoyed that you included a spiritual aspect.
At the beginning of any of my more intimate group settings—say less than 10 people—I always ask how many have a spiritual practice, or believe that there is a higher power, or a source energy that supports them (note that I make no mention at all of religion).
If all affirm, or if all but a few affirm, and those few still want to move forward, I offer to bring the a bit of spiritual dimension to certain life-alignment, self-leaderdship, self-worth, and desire engine concepts.
When we “dare” to go ahead in this way, the workshop interaction and richness is usually exponentially enhanced.
Thank you for an uplifting post as I go off and trust myself to lead a “Brilliant Self-Leadership” workshop. 🙂
Thank you Mark.
It’s so interesting that you mention the potential spiritual component to workshops. I do workshops for both religions and business organizations. I had never thought about adding a spiritual component, if it seems appropriate. Fascinating…
Best wishes and thanks for the good word.
Thanks… I am very careful and discreet about it, and in measured amounts, but it works out well when it is a group agreement. When we think about it, why wouldn’t spirituality, practiced in an integrated, private, quiet way, expand and enhance all aspects of life, including our business lives? 🙂
Hi Mark you probably would love The Rabbi’s Gift. Google it. Share it!!!!!!
Thank you, Scott. I will check it out!
Wow what a great post Dan!
Good things happening to good people is a powerful affirmation.
Just goes to show you, it’s always something! Ain’t it?
Folks of meager means win the lottery thinking they will be happy. Then they find most of their time is boring while their friends are at work. Always something.
Guy gets a date with the girl of his dreams and finds out she is not a good person with good posture!!!! Ugh!!!
Don’t ever apologize for what works for you Dan, I don’t! I am who I am.
One thing I find as I am trudging the road to happy destiny, success in my case, is the next challenge is always sitting directly in front of my grill, right up in my cute little mug , demanding my attention. Where is the time to rest?????? Success is not a destination but the journey, I suppose.
It never ends till the dirt nap!
If you are a man of faith, be faithful, if you are a woman of song, sing it with all you got baby! We are here to share with each other what we got, share your talents with unbridled enthusiasm.
You are the only you in the HISTORY. Act like it!!!!
I would only add Dan, KNOW THYSELF. Without that all the rest is just built on sand.
Just like my opinion man. Me a man of generic faith.
Happy for you Dan.
Thank you Scott.
“Dirt nap” … you crack me up!
Love the illustration of the lottery. It illustrates the problem of losing ourselves to something outside ourselves. It may also help us rethink success.
Best wishes and thanks for the chuckle.
Dan, great post. I think the part about knowing yourself and sticking to who you really are is key. Never forget why is it that you decided to do something. Thanks!
Thank you Jose’.
It’s surprisingly easy to forget who we are. Glad you joined in.
This applies to everyone from my 9 year old, who just won an award from his swim club, all the way up to the President of the United States. It’s a perfect example of why I love your blog. Because anyone can understand it and then go apply it. Well done!
Thank you Darryl.
I never thought about the application to a 9 year old. That’s the power of a good story it bring application in surprising ways. Love it.
Ditto to Darryl! Dan, I read your posts daily and can most often pull something applicable for understanding the day that just passed or for the day ahead of me. I own my own business without any employees. And I am currently not serving on any boards. Why would I subscribe to Leadership Freak? Leadership is a skill one should exhibit and apply daily when interacting with another human being. Period. My college age kids subscribe. My friends not working outside the home subscribe. My retired mother subscribes as well as many professional friends and colleagues not in leadership positions. So, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Obama subscribes!
Soooooo, what led me to commenting today was originally to send along this quote I read yesterday in The Week under Wit and Wisdom:
“success is a lousy teacher. It seduces people into thinking they can’t lose” Bill Gates
which seemed appropriate with todays post………enjoy the day!
Thank you Lisa.
Wow! you have subscribers crawling out from the woodwork! I’m having too much fun. I probably should be arrested.
You are so right…leadership principles apply to all of us. I wish more people got that idea…especially moms and dads.
Love the Gates quote. However, when I’m succeeding it’s hard to believe it… 🙂
I appreciate your confident humility. I appreciate the way you exhort your readers and those in your personal circle to learn your strengths and the to “play to your strengths”. By the way, I believe your readers do trust your heart.
Thank you Scott.
I often think about how “who” you are enriches me. And also, “who” I am enriches you. It’s what I hope for all relationships.
Best in your travels.
Thank you so much for your post. It really hit the spot this morning. I’ve recently been labeled to self reliant and a know it all by a group of people that don’t work with me. The ones that do vehemently disagree with that assessment, but the image is still out there ( I’m working to change that). Your message to trust God, trust myself, bring myself and be myself really reminded me that God is in control and has brought me this far, He’s not going to stop now.
Thank you Bob.
The opinions others hold about us matter…but not ultimately. 🙂
You have my best in your journey. Thanks for the good word.
I don’t have a million followers, fans or retweeters and indeed I am often challenged to find an audience at all except when there is a crisis somewhere that causes everyone to look at me and say “now what are we going to do?”. 🙂 I can however certainly relate to your three key points of “Trust yourself, bring yourself and be yourself”. Without these three elements you will either be standing still or going down someone else’s path.
Personally, I would perhaps qualify these a bit to make sure people don’t use them with a wanton disregard for the world around them. Before you can really trust, bring and be, it is wise to listen. Listen not to one but to many views, so that you see as many sides of an issue as possible. Then, when the time for action comes, you can trust, bring and be, knowing that you are informed and prepared to make sound decisions, take appropriate actions and, hopefully, be well-rewarded with positive results.
Thank you Paul.
The whole trust yourself thing is one of the things that feels like new shoes to me. It doesn’t fit with my upbringing. Your comment brings an important aspect.
What I love about your contribution is the outside component. We never succeed by simply sinking inward. We always bring ourselves to something…. a problem etc. You remind us to keep one eye on the external issue too… Listen, understand, explore. Don’t just sit under a tree contemplating the meaning of your navel. Love it..
Thanks Dan and lmcaissie for your kind comments. I’ve always been a listener / explorer. As a kid I would lie awake at night slowly turning the dial on my radio until I heard an interesting conversation on a far away station. (that got me sent to the hallway for mentioning that it took me a few nights of listening to the news on Radio Moscow before I understood they were talking about the same Vietnam war as the one we saw reports about on the nightly news… and it also made me a Golden State Warriors fan even though I lived almost a thousand miles due North of the Oakland Alameda Country Colliseum and wasn’t really a basketball fan)
Learning to listen and learn from things that were “different” turned out to be the key to my success though when I found myself alone, on my own in a foreign country and different culture at 18. Now I’m in my fifties, still listening, still exploring and most importantly, still learning!
Dan, the success I have feels a lot like new shoes to me too. In fact, it is literally still hard for me to buy new shoes or stay in some of the high class hotels our company operates because I still remember when I lived on less than half of what the government tax authorities thought was “minimum existence level” (I exist, your stats are wrong was my response to their queries about hidden funds they thought I must have) and I still remember the day I went for my interview at a five star hotel that is part of he company I still work for. I couldn’t force myself to use the main entrance because I didn’t feel I belonged there.
25 years later I’m a VP in the company but I still shudder sometimes when I walk through the entrance of a new hotel. It doesn’t fit with my upbringing either. On the other hand, having that background and ballast and sontinuously listening, learning and exploring really allows me to trust myself, bring myself and above all be myself every day.
Powerful addition! I feel it.
Paul, it’s uncanny how we were on a similar wavelength, writing at the same time.
Someone once told me that you need to know who you are, who you aren’t and who you’ll never be. I find the concept fascinating because there’s some room for movement in there, of flexibility and adaptability, but also an admission that there are some things that probably will never change.
Add in the mix that we can never let anyone love/respect us more than we love/respect ourselves, including in business relationships, and it gives the “know yourself” and “accept yourself” a real purpose.
I’m not sure which comes first, the need to realize the above or the act of doing what you propose: Trust Yourself, Bring Yourself, Be Yourself.
Life is not linear, so it’s probably all mixed up together.
Very thought provoking.
Thank you Lynn.
Very thought provoking. Neither of us added…”who we want to become” … I love asking that. It’s a bit of a hairy subject but I still love thinking about it.
“Success is harder than failure” – so simple and true, yet very difficult for us to understand because we don’t trust ourselves, forget or ignore who we really are, and try to be who others tell us we should be. Thank you for the reminder!
Thank you Pam.
Always a pleasure to read positive affirmations… best wishes for the journey!
As a man of faith as well, I have always struggled to balance this concept with Proverbs 15:22, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” But, as a leader, I know that ultimately it is on me. I can get advice, I can consult, but in the end, the buck stops here. I will choose. I will make the final decision. I have to trust that my faith will lead me to the right decision and therefore action.
Thank you Colby.
You bring up an essential component of success…counsel, coaching, and advice. In other words, listening to others.
It may sound odd but I’ve found advisers, mentors, and teachers actually help me find my way…be who I am better.
Wonderful contribution…thanks again
Success is pretty scary and someone from my site added into the discussion that there can be a fear of success. What if it changes you? What if it isn’t what you thought it’d be? I guess it all goes back to faith and knowing that success is indeed more difficult than failing.
Thank you Vincent.
So true! Staying the same feels the safest. 🙂
Fabulous post! Trust yourself and believe in yourself. That sums it all. When we trust ourselves we develop the courage to pursue our dreams and succeed. It is true that sometimes we bring unnecessary stress to our lives by trying to be someone else. Having strong convictions in our strengths and capacity to succeed will guide us to the right path.
Thank you Tagrid.
It’s great seeing you be a regular here…always adding value and sharing your insights.
Best to you
Great post Dan, and I am very happy for your success. Amazing what happens when people love what they do and do what they love. Simplicity of thought and heartfelt passion equal beauty. What we feel, what we see, what we want and what we give is all we ever receive; self-replenishing and self sustaining once we find our “sweet spot” there is nothing we cannot do. What may have started as work now prevails as joy, happiness, and inner peace. This is the path we all begin on and some like you are blessed to walk at this point with no need for a compass just the guiding soul that moves you forward and enriches all that surround you. Felicidades Dan, God bless. Best, Al
Thank you Al.
Love the image of giving energy and receiving it back. It’s so true that doing what we love is refreshing even when it’s hard work.
Thank you is all I can say. Your post was exactly what I needed. Especially the last suggestion…trust God. As a woman of faith. I am 7 months unemployed, assisting my mom in caring for my father who is living with alzheimers disease, while looking for work. There are days when I cannot see the forest for all of the trees and debris. All day long I have been getting the same message, trust God and trust yourself.
So I thank you again for your wonderful and much needed post.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Thank you Julie.
Congrats for caring for your mom and dad. I added mom because helping take care of dad is taking care of her, too.
It’s always interesting when I start hearing related topics in one day…it makes me sit up and take notice.
Best to you
A million views…geez Dan, got some extra room under that table!?
Well deserved props to you for your efforts over all these years.
In response to your question, first I would say ‘re-create yourself’—play well and play hard as it will recreate and recharge you. And it is that weird paradox that if you ‘invest in yourself’, you will have more to share with others, who will reciprocate in kind.
Perhaps keep ‘opening yourself’ to the challenges that you may or may not be aware are right around the corner. While such action may create vulnerability, it creates mutual opportunities.
Probably the last to add is ‘grow yourself’…never stop yearning to learn. When you do, you can delight in what you achieve and even eventually laugh at your many missteps along the way…
Thank you Doc.
It can be an interesting shift for leaders to understand that investing in ourselves is an expression of investing in others.
I gave a presentation yesterday and used the illustration of always pour from your tank into another. After awhile, there’s nothing left. People ask me how I’m able to write so much. I’ve made lots of mistakes…still making them. But one main reason is I’m pour lots into my own tank. I read alot and have conversations with some of the world’s top leadership thinkers.
I’m so glad you added the “Trust God” line. God-confidence will take us a lot further than self-confidence which is limited.
Thank you Dawn.
I appreciate your encouragement!
Dan, this is a great post. Ultimately, it’s the topics that are hardest to write – those which are closest to our truth – that are the best. This one resonates because it is so relatable. “Bring You” is great advice, especially to those fresh out of college, entering the work force. They want to be respected, they want to succeed. And oftentimes, they think that means they can’t be themselves.
I think, too, that in our day-to-day business lives, many people are working in a career or a job that isn’t true to their authentic self. In that case, it becomes even more difficult to just be themselves, because they are afraid of failure. We are most capable of being ourselves when we are doing what it is we love, what we are meant to be doing. But, there are ways to bring your uniqueness into any industry. Trust your instincts and be true to who you are. Great advice for all ages and stages of life!
Hi Dan –
You are so speaking my language.
congrats on your huge success!
Great post, as always! I think trusting yourself becomes clouded when ambition comes into play. Then questions start to creep in like, “What if I’m not good enough?”
Coming from another man of faith, I think this is when trusting God becomes even more important than trusting yourself. The path may not always be easy, but like David, sometimes all it takes is a pebble to turn it all around.
I loved how you said, “Bring yourself.” People eventually read/listen/watch what you have to say because of you…not who you are imitating. Great reminder, Dan.
I enjoy your blog and have nominated you for an award!
You have such a talent for turning the complex into actionable steps that make an immediate difference. I have had a career of successes, most of which I paid for with anxiety born of the converse of the three points you make here. Yesterday, just before leaving for a presentation, I read your post and enjoyed all the freedom you message promised. Not only did the presentation go well, but I enjoyed the event and the people there. So all I can say is, “Thanks.”
Leadership can be this simple. Thanks for sharing it with others.
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