How Success Can Lead to Failure

Imagine having all the success you ever wanted. You get a job you want, start a business, get the body you want, get the significant other you want, learn that skill you want, you name it. Everything seems great and you are on top of the world. And then suddenly you start to drift backwards from where you came. Why is this?


I find the way people act very interesting. We can have a complete dominance in one field but be bereft of knowledge in another. After achieving dominance in one field (maybe despite no one else believing we could do it), we feel like we don’t need to put in work anymore. We start to fall in to the same pattern of thinking and talking as the people that once didn’t believe us when we wanted to achieve something seemingly insane.


I’m talking about complacency. I’ll give a personal example. I saw people in my French class in high school learn French to a very high level, and then of course when they saw me study Japanese on the side, they simply look at me and say “I could never do that.” I never understood why. They learned another language proficiently, why couldn’t they learn another one?


Apparently, some people feel as though they have a limited amount of “easy” successes in life that they can have so they pick and choose which ones are easy. Actually, I don’t know how to explain their reasoning. From my own experience though, if you put in blood sweat, and tears to get one amazing success, then you already know how get your next success. If you put the same amount of energy into what you now claim you can’t do as you did into the thing that you succeeded in, you will be able to succeed yet again. The only differentiator is the amount of effort you decide to put in. That’s it.


Another form of complacency: someone learns something to a high degree (a language, a martial art, etc) or gets that ideal body, and then stop doing everything that got them to where they are today. You can’t keep the six pack once you start guzzling beers without any exercise at all, you won’t maintain your musical skills if you don’t keep practicing them.


For some reason, people think that as long as you reached a high level of skill then it automatically is retained despite any effort (or lack thereof) on your part. It is not the case. If you do not use your skill, you lose your skill. I haven’t had a guitar for the past 7 months after moving to Taiwan. If I go to a guitar store to pick up a guitar, I cannot play as well as I did 7 months ago. That’s just a fact. I will have to put the work back in to get my chops back up to par.


The main takeaway is do not let success hold you back. The reason I call my blog “The Journey of Learning” is because it never stops. You can’t let just learn something and then stop. You can’t have one success and then stop. There is always something more to learn, always something more to discover. That’s the best part! It’s what makes everything fun.


Don’t fall into complacency. Yeah you achieved your goal, now set another one!


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