The 5 Hidden Dangers Of Success

The pathway to success and failure in the life of every leader.

Everyone loves success in life, but as it comes, we need to be wary of the hidden dangers that accompany this gift. I have watched great leaders flame out and fail, and their journey often follows a predictable pattern. Here are the five dangers along the path to success.

We start to experience success in life or work.

It all begins with a small success and then success becomes intoxicating! It brings the kudos of others, perks in salary, and respect from our peers. And this for some leaders is like tasting a new drink that has an unquenchable thirst.

We begin to believe our press.

With these small successes comes greater self-confidence which in balance is usually a healthy characteristic of a leader. However, the confidence that comes with this self-confidence can bitter-sweet if it leads a leader to think that our judgment, leadership, or decisions are better than others. It is one thing to receive compliments and adulation – yes heady stuff. It is another thing to believe it is true only of us – which lead to arrogance and narcissism.

We marginalize the voices that challenge us.

Have you ever worked for someone who didn’t listen to people who disagreed with them but cultivated those who did?  Healthy leaders always welcome a variety of voices, even those that challenge them. Unhealthy leaders don’t want to hear from those who question them because they have started to believe that they are usually if not always right. In fact, the more successful we are, the more likely we are to marginalize those who disagree with us which places us in significant danger! Our response to this desire to marginalize is the tipping point for all leaders.

We become isolated.

Once a leader marginalizes those who challenge them, they can then become isolated. While some leaders “appear” surrounded by people, they are often and only surrounded by people who agree with them and those who stroke their egos therefore actually isolated. In the end, they have isolated themselves from truth-tellers who have been driven out by our words and actions. Isolation, or non-accountability, is the prelude to failure. At this point, they have substantially removed the guardrails of their lives leaving them open and vulnerable to their proclivities, narcissism, and therefore no longer listening to those who want to help them make the best decisions for themselves and others.

We crash and burn.

And finally, the ultimate danger of success – failure. I know ironic! Isolation leads to disaster eventually. Those who have experienced failure after significant success can often point back to a time when they quit listening to those who challenged them, decided that the rules didn’t apply to them and that they always made the right calls. It might be moral, financial, relational, or some other type of failure but often reputation is lost as is the fruit of their hard work over years and decades.

Here is the lesson. The higher our success, the higher our potential for failure unless we resist the temptation to believe our press, listen to those who tell us the truth, stay connected and real in genuine relationships, and keep guardrails around our lives. As the writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.