How to trump the Curse of Success

By Somali K Chakrabarti

Overcoming challenges brings success, success brings its own challenges.

Success has its own attractions, but it also has the side effects.


The Initial stages of the Journey To Success 

When you start something new as a professional or as an entrepreneur, or in sports or in a creative field, you generally start with a high risk appetite.

Path to successYou are enthused and you put in your best efforts and toil for your success.

You make mistakes, learn from them and grow on your experiences. Any positive feedback you get adds to your levels of motivation and bolsters the hope of further positive outcome.

When success finally knocks the door, you’re excited; you get adulation from all quarters and you cherish the attention.


The Challenges that come with Success 

After you have tasted success, you want to dearly hold on to it. You know how the view at the top is and you want to stay there.

You have learnt to capitalize on your strengths. You know very well what works for you and what doesn’t.

At the same time you may feel that you have to live up to the expectations that are thrust on you. Chances are that you may become are a captive of expectations – not only of the others, but your own expectations as well.

Pressure comes in multitude with positions of success. That is when your tolerance for failure reduces and anxiety starts building up.

Curse of Success
Curse of Success | Image credit :

One day when you suddenly find that the tried and tested methods of success are not producing the same results anymore, you get stressed out, which in turn further aggravates the anxiety. The fear of failure gets on to you and robs you of the enjoyment that you derive from your work. Your productivity drops.

This can happen to anyone – to the young or to very experienced individuals.


How to overcome the curse of success

 “Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.”  ~ Vince Lombardi

The first step to beat the fear of failure nor anxiety is to acknowledge and accept the fact that things cannot always be under your control or work in your favor.


Not all individuals enjoy being competitive in the long run.

Not everybody likes to cater, for a long time, to the ever changing standards of perfection, benchmarks, and demands from all quarters. If you are one of those who do not want to get bogged down by expectations, and yet want to continue to work, for the sheer pleasure of it, the best option is to accept that ups and downs are a part of life and move on with grace.  Though you may or may not miss the limelight, you will be happy with what you are doing, of course as long as you can earn a living out of it.

We have seen many people, particularly athletes or those in creative fields, call it quits at the peak of the career.

Bjorn Borg retired by choice in 1983, after claiming 11 Grand Slam singles titles throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s.


Some people want to play a long innings

However, if you are among those who want to remain in competition and play a long innings, then it may require thinking afresh.

In his book  ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’, Marshall Goldsmith explains out that successful people sometimes fall in the trap of believing that they are successful because they behave in a particular way.

Yet the very strengths that have led to their success may also impede them from adapting to changing needs. Hubris, born of success, can accelerate one’s downfall.

That could be the time to reinvent yourself.

Like there is no sure shot formula for success, there is no one formula for holding on to success.  You would need to look from a fresh pair of eyes, and reinvent yourself to suit the changing preferences of your clients, audience or internal and external stakeholders.

In an environment where uncertainty looms a large, you need to proactively identify and recognize the changing patterns, and find ways of working around the challenges.

This is where a good mentor or a coach can play a key role. A coach can help you to identify alternative ways of working, while optimally using the skills, talents and abilities that you already have.

By taking a small smart step forward toward your bigger goal, evaluating the learning and building it into what you do next, you can avoid hubris, anxiety or complacence getting into your way of retaining your success.

 “No leader, however great, can long continue unless he wins battles. The battle decides all.” ~ Vince Lombardi


The next time you find yourself basking in the glow of success, it may help to remember that success is not permanent, and be willing to modulate yourself if the need be.


Here is an advice from the book ‘Why I Failed: Lessons from Leaders’ by Shweta Punj

When in doubt, step back, reassess your priorities,

Remember you don’t have to follow others

Make yourself of steel

While money is important, aiming on a broader social objective will help you perform better

Don’t lose sight of your long term goals

Don’t compromise on ethics


Have you ever felt restricted by your own success or have been apprehensive that success may slip out of your hand?

Would love to know what are you ways to beat these side effects of success.

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20 thoughts on “How to trump the Curse of Success

  1. What a post. Just couldn’t take my eyes off ur article. They say nothing fails like success u r perfectly right in saying that handling success is not an easy task.
    Some are too tired after achieving their goals some lack motivation to get yo next level , many have suffered a failure due to overconfidence and what not if I keep listing the reason. But your post gives an insight on how to keep the momentum going. Thank you Somali.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A person fights many battles in life ,some time winning and some time losing. But he or she has to keep on trying all the time changing himself or herself and making adjustments to win the bigger war. In this connection we may remember the message of Swami Vivekananda : “There is no such thing as failure in the universe. ” You have skilfully made your point that by reinventing oneself continually and relentlessly moving forward slowly and steadily is the key to trump the curse of success .A great motivational post .

    Liked by 1 person

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