Victims of their own Success? Hubris, you mean!


How often have you read a report about once-great entities now gone to the dogs? Have you noticed how often those entities are described as being "Victims of their own success"? What does that mean? I don't know, do you? How do companies become "Victims of their own success"? After all, if your success makes you a victim, is it really a success? What about "Too big to fail"? What does that mean? That you're not successful, just that you're very big and therefore simply look successful? Or that too many others have invested so much in you that they cannot afford to let your failure be seen as such?

We indulge in these meaningless phrases all the time. If we don't, it seems that we need to endure them, since they seem to be everywhere. We need to stop hiding weaknesses and expose them for what they are. Then perhaps something positive might actually be accomplished!


As a whole, we seem to have a tendency to think that we're better than we really are. This applies even to those who take great pains to appear humble. Have you come across the term "humblebragging"? Yes, boasting about what you think as great success but couching it in such contrived modesty it's actually offensive. Posts on Facebook about "It was a great privilege to have served these people...", "The audience was great..." (Whoops...I've been guilty of that one myself!) and "Learning from such distinguished participants..." Stop it. You were paid to generate positive outcomes. Just state how the participants benefited from your efforts, and how the company is becoming better as a result. If you did it pro bono, say so. Or not, as you feel like it. Just don't pretend that none of the positive outcomes was due to you. Attribute contributions to your success to others, by all means, but don't hide facts under meaningless statements.

Yes, the mighty are fallen, not because of their own success, but because of hubris. Because of forgetting why they have been so successful. Beware of sayings like "Nothing succeeds like success." Stop quoting such inanities. You will be successful because of diligence, continuous perspicacity and having an attitude of always learning and trying. And always remembering that you're human, and that many others have given you much aid along the way.

Victims of their own success? Hardly!

Let's remember that no one can be a victim of their own success if they define success rightly. That means defining success according to universal, non-negotiable principles and not passing fads. Have you defined what success means to you? Do it right, and you'll never be a victim of your own success!

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