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The Paradox of Success: Is There a Downside to Winning?    How can being a success possibly be a problem? Don't we all want to be winners? In fact, there are potentially negative consequences in achieving our goals and in being known as a successful person. This article takes a look at the 20 paradoxical factors in success and formulates some strategies to deal with the inevitable challenges that surround anyone who strives for success.    796 words.
The Mental Game Coach, Peak Performance Playbook



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The Paradox of Success

Is There A Downside To Winning?



Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California



How can being a success possibly be a problem? Don't we all want to be winners? In fact, there are potentially negative consequences in achieving our goals and in being known as a successful person.

Let's take a look at this paradoxical phenomenon and formulate some strategies to deal with the inevitable challenges that surround anyone who strives for success.

What are some of the paradoxes of playing the success game?

1. In order to succeed big, you could become a workaholic, a very common downside.

2. You may have no balance in your life, or outside interests to help you enjoy life or reduce stress.

3. You may be putting all your eggs into one basket, and if you fail, be devastated.

4. You may take your success campaign too seriously and lose your perspective and sense of humor.

5. The rest of life may pass you by with you burying yourself in your work. There may be missed opportunities because you have your nose to the grindstone.

6. You become so good at what you do that you fall victim to the golden handcuffs syndrome, where you may be unwilling to change due to possibly losing all the benefits success has brought you.

7. You may become so successful that you get fat and happy, take your eye off the ball and lose your motivation.

8. Success means your learning curve is continually climbing to handle the new vistas success opens for you. It seems as if change is happening at a constant rate.

9. Competitors now actively strategize about unseating your success and you become a potential target for the unwanted competitive warfare they will wage against you.

10. You may make enemies when before, you were not important enough to be hated.

11. You may leave your peers and friends behind, symbolically and literally, when you raise the bar.

12. It's harder to stay at the top than to get there. It was tough succeeding, but repeating it may even be more difficult. It takes more time, more planning, and with your new distractions and obligations, keeping focus is even more demanding.

13. Your actions may take on new levels of importance such that before it was nice to succeed, where now, you must succeed, or other people fail with you.

14. Maintaining new levels of performance brings new demands on your time and new responsibilities you've never had.

15. Your private life may suffer if you become highly recognizable. People will want to approach you and have a piece of your time and privacy.

16. The bar has been raised on your performance levels so your old habits and processes may not work. You may have to create new systems to maintain your success.

17. People will expect you to succeed repeatedly. There is a new pressure to perform to a level that was not there before. You are aware of people watching and waiting for you to repeat your success.

18. Change itself is scary. It's easier to maintain status quo and go along unthinkingly. Change brings us into the unknown with its mix of exciting adventure and scary possibilities.

19. Being a success can limit you by having people place you into a new set of expectations of how they view you. They see you as being successful at a specific thing and may not consider that you are able to expand your abilities and talents.

20. You may be expected to assume leadership positions. People will look to you for advice and as being a model of virtue. Your behavior will be examined more closely.

So we see now that success CAN bring stress into your life. This is not to say that there is nothing good about becoming a success. Clearly, there are many exciting benefits. The wise and enlightened striver towards success, however, undertakes the achievement journey with eyes wide open and consciously chooses what experiences to embrace and which ones to shun.

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Copyright © 2011- Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.


Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com), an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.

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Paradox of Success  
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