By Gilbert Alasa
There is something motivational speakers rarely talk about. If they had 60 minutes, for instance, to deliver a powerful talk in a highly charged conference, a chunk of them would dwell more on how people, companies or brands succeed or succeeded. That’s pretty beautiful and interesting. They often tell us that as long as we believe, we sure can achieve. They draw graphic examples from people and institutions that rose from zero to hero. That’s pretty cheery and true, too. But there is an aspect nobody tells us about. Perhaps they feel it’s not necessary. Sadly, motivational books don’t bother to beam their searchlight on this.
Think about this: when people succeed, they are likely to drop their caution cap easily. They lose sight of their thinking hat. They just get carried away in their vanities; sharing flakes of their success stories on social media platforms and having a fair share of eulogies from everyone. If they were the opportunist type, they could exploit the ovation to take on a couple of women and proceed on a wining and dining spree. I digressed.
Consider this. Those whom the gods would destroy,” Euripides wrote some 2,500 years ago, “they first make mad.” Research shows that people are less likely to make ground-breaking decisions after a prolonged success. Sometimes, some brands or people fail to adapt to change. Remember that all living things survive in an environment by virtue of their ability to adapt. Some get it all wrong in the course of adapting. Other times, they just become buried in their routines.
Now, consider Blackberry, for instance. Blackberry came in some years ago and everyone fell in love with their amazing products. They were the envy of other smartphones, declaring profits almost like the Andrew Fastow’s era at Enron. Theirs was a story made in heaven; of bliss, of glittering success. Soon they swooped on emerging markets and raked in billions of dollars in revenue. And then, like a movie, everything started to spiral all the way down. But what was the management thinking? Were they blind to the red signals blinking from Silicon Valley to Wall Street?
Here is the deal. In all of their failure narratives, business experts ascribed their tragic flaw to sheer complacency. Some say Blackberry made efforts to adapt to the changing business landscape but the changing face of today’s customer just did not cut the ice with their modest efforts.
You know sometimes, we become successful that we refuse to look out for opportunities to grow. We just sit in there thinking we have
arrived. After all, the media shouts our name. Family members and friends worship us with awe, the kind reserved for kings and deities. If you were a Yoruba man with some street credibility, Pasuma would shout your name to high heavens. Our ego gets eventually fattened, massaged and swollen. We just take it cool because we have become model for brand leadership. We literally relax because somewhere in our mind, we just feel we are the best. So we forget to imagine how long the revelry would last. We forget the competition. Whenever that happens, you can be sure of one thing: welcome to failure 101.
Few years ago – a sophomore student at the University of Benin, I emerged as the Coca-Cola/NBC Reporter of the Year by a team of judges who felt my reports were phenomenal. The feeling was great. A mentor told me to up the ante the following year. He told me I needed to work even harder. In his reckoning, I would end up like a flash in the pan if I fail to repeat the feat the following year. He told me that a champion can only be termed one by his ability to repeat similar feat time and again. I felt that was a tall order.
Later, the import of that statement began to sink in. Guess what? The following year, I lost out, even though I was nominated for the prestigious prize. Even though I clinched the Opinion Writing Prize that year, I felt disappointed in myself. Poor me! When I relayed the story to my mentor, he just looked at me in the face and said: “So, you have started having girl-friends, abi…” Of course the following year, I had to sit up until I eventually won the prize again.
So success itself can be failure wrapped in a hay sack. The next time you record such amazing feat, just remember that you are few metres away from failure. So when you succeed, just don’t dwell on that great feeling for long. That’s the time to work even harder. That’s the time to roll up your sleeves and aspire to higher feats.
Gilbert Alasa is a blogger and media professional based in Lago. Catch him on Twitter @lasagasy