Can Success Be Bad? (7 Points, Research and 1 Resource)

Success can be bad if you aren’t prepared to handle it.

We are programmed to achieve success — be it getting good grades, earning more money, having a successful marriage, etc.

But has anybody prepared us for what happens after we are successful? I bet for most of us, nobody did.

So I’ll shed some light on some unpleasant consequences of success. 

I’ll also share my own experiences and an interesting piece of research I found, which is very insightful.

The point of this article is not to discourage you from achieving success. But it’s to show how you can handle the consequences that come with it and still lead a good life.

Let’s dive in.

1. Success could alienate you from people close to you.

So what happens when you express your achievements with people close to you? Have you ever tried that? 

You’ll realize many people get jealous because of it. 

In fact, research proves that those who express their emotions after winning are perceived negatively, and people are less likely to befriend them. 

Luckily, the research also found out that if someone doesn’t express their emotions after winning, they are perceived positively. 

And this means people are more likely to befriend them. 

So here is a lesson from this research.  

  • Share your victories only with people who are happy to hear them.
  • Don’t share them with people who won’t appreciate it. 

In most cases, your gut will tell you who the right people are.

2. Success could build pressure to win consistently.

I remember every time that I used to win an event, there was even more pressure the next time to do well. And if I won a very big event there was a lot more pressure to win a smaller event. 

Often time this pressure can be hard to bear and could eat you. And I often remember choking to this. 

Don’t put much pressure on yourself just because people expect you to win. I wish I could go back in time and tell this to my younger self.

At the end of the day, you have to remember that you are living life. So there will be victories, there will be losses. 

Your job is only to keep giving the best.

3. Before achieving success, you might become unpopular.

This one hurt me the most and left me with many deep wounds.  You cannot expect to achieve success without working hard on something. 

This could mean spending more time in the gym, practicing your craft and avoiding social interactions.

Imagine you are a teen,  and you avoid social interactions. I remember people saying nasty things to me because of that. 

In those years it hurts. But it made me a stronger person today. Thanks to the hard work I put in those early years, I can now travel the world and work with people I like, on my own terms!

If you are hustling right now, keep going regardless of what the word says. There will come a time when everything will pay off sweetly, and you’ll get to live the life of your dreams!

4. Success can make you feel bored!

Do you know what stops people from consistently putting in the work? It’s not skill. 

It’s actually boredom! 

I read this from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. As soon as I read it, I tried to go back in time and check what had happened to me after hitting my peak. 

It turns out that most of the time, I had skipped practicing and lost my competitive edge.

I had become complacent. And nothing kills success more than complacency. 

So whenever you feel bored, do things that keep you challenged. The moment boredom hits, you slack off and lose your touch, so keep pushing your limits.

5. Fall from the peak isn’t fun

When you are at your peak, you feel like the king of the world. But once you start descending, life feels like a pain. You get so used to staying at the top that it becomes difficult even to see yourself not close to it.

This often happens because our ego gets too big when we become successful. And anything that diminishes our value, our ego perceives that as an attack on our entire identity.

For that, you need to build resilience. It’s not fun to be at the bottom. But to get out of it, you need to accept the truth and find out where you are lacking. 

Only then you can do the work to get out from the failure stage. That’s what humility is all about.

There’s a fantastic book ‘Ego is the Enemy’ which talks about this in great detail. The author Ryan Holiday shows exactly how ego behaves when we fall from our peak and what to do to get back on our feet. 

6. People expect great things out of you.

Just because you have done it once, people naturally assume you would be able to do it the next time too. Often, people start to trust you so much that they’ll no longer question your ideas. 

I’ve faced this problem whenever I used to lead a team.

As a leader, you want people to share their ideas using their brains. But when they don’t challenge you, it becomes a problem. Now instead of relying on the team’s collective conscious, it’s a single man’s brain making all the decisions.

In such situations, the better thing you can do is ask people to share their ideas first before you ever open your mouth. 

That’s one reason why it pays to be quiet as a leader. 

7. Success might blind you for power.

Tell me one thing – What’s an important history lesson you have learned from dictators? 

In most cases, it would be this: power corrupts. 

Anyone who has tasted success might begin to feel like they are invincible. They might believe they are superior to the rest. As a result, one might develop a superiority complex where one sees himself better than the other. 

There’s a big downside to this. If you see someone inferior to you, you’ll also see someone superior. 

And living with that might hurt your self-esteem and confidence.

In this case, remember everybody has their talents. So it pays to be kind to people. Also, you never know when others might become more successful than you are. 

So stay humble!

Useful Resources

Often success inflates our ego, which could often lead to bad outcomes. I suggest you read the book – Ego is our Enemy by Ryan Holiday to discover more about this topic.

Ryan Holiday shares many examples and passes some timeless wisdom on how ego threatens our success at every stage.

Conclusion

I hope you have found useful tips you can use to handle success better. Remember striving for success is not a bad thing. After all, that’s how the human race has moved forward. 

But don’t let it make you a terrible person.

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