I had a 6 month review with a client recently, who’d been making really, really great progress. He was procrastinating less, being way more productive, really getting shit done. We celebrated his achievements — it really was great work, and progress (particularly inner progress) is extremely hard.
And then we stopped. It was time to reflect.
(Breaking-the-4th-wall side-note: Run retrospectives on your personal growth. Constantly.)
The worst thing you can do when you attain a certain amount of success, is forgot about how hard you worked to get there.
The analogy I always give is of crossing the Grand Canyon. It’s like making it to the end of the Grand Canyon, and looking back and marveling at it — it’s incredible, right? The problem is, most people latch on to that high and forget all the rattlesnake bites and broken legs that got them there.
This is a very common issue with crossing the chasm, that I coach most of my clients on. Success isn’t a one time thing — it’s a boxing match. You’ll come out on top one moment and get knocked out the next. You might be out of the forest now, but there’s another one coming.
You should never lose sight of what got you there. Because when the next rodeo inevitably comes, you need to be mentally prepared for it — and the higher up on the pedestal you place yourself, the bigger the fall.
Nearly 80% of NFL players are bankrupt within 2 years of retiring. I’m not making this up — you can even cross-reference the always-accurate Wikipedia page.
While a lot of this is attributed to poor money management, there’s plenty of young and wealthy people in other industries who don’t face nearly the same financial decay. So why is it prevalent among athletes in particular?
They forget where they came from.
With the majority of athletes, particularly in the NBA and NFL, coming from lower-income neighbourhoods, the moment they get exposed to any kind of wealth the game is “over”. What was once a life of grinding to perform and saving every dollar for basketball camps, now is one of partying in different cities every week and spending $40k at a club.
Then, they retire at 35, with a lifestyle that drives the remainder of their savings to extinction within a few years. And of course, while playing, they never do what they did the entire first 20 years of their lives: prepare for the future.
You can never lose the hunger that drove you to success in the first place, and the best way to do that is to never forget the struggles on the way. The best founders have a single thing in common: they’re always slightly terrified.
Unless you have a healthy fear of your demons coming back, you won’t be ready to fight them again when they do.