Those who have failed are offered all types of advice on how to rebound from failure, but for those who attain success, there is scarce guidance on how to sustain it.

It’s a fact. More people rise from failure than survive success. That’s because it is more difficult to survive success than failure.

Fail and it is over. No one expects more of you. You worked hard, did all the things you were supposed to do to be successful, but failed. Big deal. It happens all the time and there are many who will commiserate with you; if only because your success would have embarrassed them.

On the other hand, when you succeed you become different from the rest and you have to live with that success alone. With success you step out from the crowd and accomplish what many talk about but few do. That is all well and good, but it is important to recognize that merely achieving success is not the end of the story. You’ll be confronted with constant challenges to maintain that success,  and you will be on your own to meet them.

When Winning is not Enough

Traditionally we are taught the skills that will enable us to achieve success, but rarely are we taught the skills needed to maintain success. To survive success the first thing we have to understand is that success is a not a sign that we are at the end of the road, but that we are on the right road. Many who were passionately dedicated to achieving success fail to apply that same dedication to maintaining that favorable outcome. Most do not appreciate that the secret to nourishing success is to keep alive the burning desire they had to attain it.

Success is not static. How it is realized and, even more importantly, how it is preserved is constantly shifting formula. Success begins to slip away when we stop doing the things that made us successful in the first place. Chances are high that when an individual achieves remarkable levels of success they did so as a result of a unique spirit that triggered a focused vision, passion, dedication and effort, combined with a willingness to risk failure.

It is this distinctive spirit that drives, fosters, feeds and fuels a yearning for achievement. However, this “spirit of success” is fragile and will exist within us for only so long as we allow it to exist. To maintain success we must nurture and keep alive the very élan that made our success possible. If we fail to do that, not only will the spirit that drove our success break down, but the success we have achieved will begin to slip away and that will be the real failure.

What it Takes to Survive Success

For those who have achieved success and want to sustain it, there are two mindsets to adopt that will help avoid losing the grip on success.

  • When we started out to be successful we had to do so in the face of potential of failure. If we had been afraid to lose we would have never played the game. We moved forward because we overcame the fear of failure. The same dynamic can impact us in a negative way once success is attained, because we will begin to lose our success when we begin to be afraid to lose.
  • We have the potential to sustain – even enhance – our success so long as we are never content with the success that has been won.

Look at it this way. If the only objective is to avoid failure, this attitude may actually induce failure since it seeks only to maintain the status quo of the success already attained. The only option for sustaining the success we have achieved is a constant, concentrated, passionate quest to challenge complacency and strive for more success. The commitment to win even more success with refreshed dedication, rather than posturing to preserve, is the best antidote for the complacency that can often be triggered by success.

The chief reason people stop learning is the assumption that they know all there is to know; the chief threat to sustaining success is the assumption that one has done all that can be done. Success begets success when we never accept the status quo of success – especially our own.

Getting There From Here

In the end, those who have the best chance to sustain success are those who see success as something to build on – not rest on. Success becomes a nagging voice in the back of their mind that reminds them how difficult it was to achieve and how much will be lost unless they continue to do the things that will allow them to come out on top again and again in the future. The truth is that if we do not view the success we have achieved as a steppingstone to future success, it can become our tombstone of failure.