The problem with success is that it’s not a finish line. It’s a waypoint along the journey. It’s an attitude more than it is a “ride into the sunset.”
For every success there is a “what comes next” that is different for each person and company. But it usually involves losing.
Even if you still are the champion now, you have to entertain the idea that you might not always be in that position. Things will change. And you’ll move from conqueror to conquered. That can be a shocking turn of events if you aren’t prepared.
To go from being top of the heap to bottom of the pile can be a gut-wrenching experience that leaves you emotionally broken. You aren’t really sure what to do anymore. And you aren’t really sure that you have the guts to be dominant again. You remember how hard it was to fight your way to the top the last time you did it. The thought of doing that again can seem audacious.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Stop making excuses. There is nothing more crippling than you listening to your own whining about how unfair things are. If you aren’t where you want to be, then change the situation. Start with apologies and gratitude, not excuses. You can always find a reason why it’s someone else’s fault. But shifting blame won’t help you start winning again. Stop doing it. Things are what they are. Work forward. Quit looking back.
2. Decide how important it really is to you. You might not have the will to win again. Let’s be frank, most of success is desire; how badly you want it. If you don’t have the stomach for a fight, then maybe you should consider other options. Seriously. Before you start swinging swords and getting violent with your plans for world domination, take the time to evaluate your own passion.
3. Put together a plan. What got you into this mess was the lack of a plan. And the only thing that will dig you out is to have a plan. You need a clear-cut set of milestones and goals that you plan on executing. We can argue over “strategy” or “tactics” or “plans” — whatever you want to call your “marching orders.” It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know where you are going.
4. Overcommunicate everything. If it is new, you need to over-share your plan with anyone who is involved: friends, partners, employees. They all need to know what is on your mind. Conquest demands a rallying cry. You need to be out front and shouting your story from the rooftops. Take what you think is enough communication and triple it. Then you might be getting close to how much you need to be sharing.
5. Fight until you’re finished. No one remembers the guy who comes in second place. If you decide to fight, you need to be prepared to go all the way. Whatever it takes. You are a warrior, and that means you fight to win. As long as there are enemies, you swing your sword. Whether you are tired or sick or angry, you continue to fight — until you are the last man standing.
But fighting is hard. And the easiest thing to do is to lie there and let someone else step all over you. But that won’t help you heal. Whether you plan to conquer or just end up as one of the few at the top, you need to figure out what success means to you.
You aren’t promised that life will be fair. You can’t be sure that you’re strong enough to win. But today is an opportunity to give it another try. Make the most of it.
—Dan Waldschmidt is a speaker and business strategist at war with conventional business strategy. The Wall Street Journal calls his blog one of the “top 7 sales blogs” anywhere in the world. edgyconversations.com