Search Google for "turning success into failure" and you'll get over 93 million results for personal success programs to making a million in real estate. They tell a familiar tale of overcoming a challenge to ultimately reach success. Overcoming adversity, difficult circumstance, economic problems, competitive forces, all the typical stuff you've heard before.
That is not what I wanted. What about the business owner who reached a level of success, built a great business, made a bundle, and then lost it, or a good chunk of it. That is the story I could not easily fine, which is why I was intrigued by Richard St. John's presentation at TED. (Side note: You should visit TED.com once a week.)
Richard gives a very simple talk at TED that outlines 8 reasons why people reach success and then fail. Here are the three most important ideas he shared:
Dan Sullivan taught me that the horizon is the place where the land ends and the sky begins. The horizon is quite a place, you can see it, but never get there. It is real, but only in the mind. It is a mental construct that cannot be physically reached but helps us deal with time and space.
Great entrepreneurs are always chasing the horizon, always trying to get better, reach bigger goals, innovate, make things better. Getting to the horizon is the cause of your stress and anxiety, but also what drives you and keeps you successful.
2 - Money and success create complexity
Life is simpler in many ways before you reach success. Yes, there are challenges that a lack of money creates, but business complexity increases by a factor of 5 or 10 with money. The more money the more complexity. You have to manage people, assets, opportunities, requests, family members, etc.
Realizing success often causes a loss of focus and determination, causes entrepreneurs to take their eye off the ball. It is often the first step over the edge.
3 - Clients can see when you are self serving, not serving them
It takes an almost exclusive client focus to get a business off the ground. It is easy to have that focus with just a few clients, but that attention is diluted with more clients. Eventually clients become a means to an end, a sale to meet quarterly goals and maintain revenue projections. They can sense that. When they do, they'll find someone else who will focus on them and their problems.
Everyone learns lessons from their failures, what have you learned from your success that surprised you the most?