Nothing succeeds like success.
– Alexandre Dumas
Please permit me, with great respect for one of my favorite novelists, to call bulls**t on this one. The single most effective deterrent to your being successful tomorrow is the enjoyment of success today. The problem with success is that it gives us a sense of our own brilliance. We feel good when we win and do whatever we can to repeat that feeling. But, we’re not actually brilliant. On the contrary, we too often fail to notice that tomorrow’s challenge is different and, blinded by our former success, aim yesterday’s solutions at tomorrow’s problems, failing more often than not.
A key component of whatever successes I’ve had has been what I’ve learned from my failures.
– Arianna Huffington, Inc. February 2013 (Pg 52)
In contrast to Dumas, it’s more accurate to say that success inhibits success. Huffington warns that “success generates fear” by making people afraid to take risks.
We do tend to focus on success a great deal. A quick search on the web site hashtagbattle.com finds that during the past week, “success” was used as a hashtag on 14,863 tweets, while “failure” was tagged on just 1777. 800% more tweets about #success than #failure.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to succeed–an appetite for failure should be cause for concern–but consider the amazing power of failure to catalyze new ideas. Evan Williams found success in Twitter only after Odeo was obliterated when iTunes added podcasting to its line-up. The success Steve Jobs had in his second season at Apple is widely accepted to have been the result of his being fired from the company he’d created.
Prosperitas vetat obscura successum
– Latin – Prosperity inhibits success.
When you succeed, enjoy the feeling. Then, immediately look for something at which you can fail.