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Dealing with Quick Success

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

I recently had a conversation with a friend about quick success. Most people welcome it. Reaching big goals in short order sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to grow bigger faster? Reflecting on those who have experienced such relatively quick success, the game Jenga came to mind. Blocks are initially stacked then individually removed and placed on top to see how high it can reach before toppling over. With only 3 blocks as the foundation, the resulting tower is designed to become unbalanced before too long.

Similarly, a quick success usually comes with a rather narrow foundation due to a lack of time and resources. Too often things go well for a time until the success overwhelms and like the tower of blocks, things begin to sway just before the crash happens. Why didn’t they see this coming? What could they have done to avoid the collapse?

Those that succeed long-term intentionally build a broader foundation as growth happens. While this would not make the game Jenga much fun, adding more blocks to the foundation would certainly make for a taller tower and a longer game as a result. With people trying to pick up the pieces of a quick rise and fall, I hear them voice great memories of the adrenaline rush in the beginning but a deep regret to see it all fall apart in the end.

What does a stable foundation look like? Every organization could benefit from a solid game plan, a healthy management structure, adequate resources and consistent input from a variety of outsiders for perspective. As growth occurs, processes and more resources are added to maintain stability and support more growth. This could apply to new ventures within an existing organization as well. Taking the time and energy to add to a firm foundation may not be exciting but you will be glad you did when demand spikes and you are faced with how to grow to meet that demand.

A big part of a stable foundation is having a relational structure that provides needed perspective at times when there is more riding on the outcome than you probably realize. Some call this having a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy in your life. A Paul is the mentor who is the trusted advisor that can see farther down the road than you can because he or she has been there. A Barnabas is a peer or peers who walk beside you to encourage you and tell you the truth no matter how high and mighty you become. These people know you for who you really are and will not be impressed by the accolades that come with new heights. A Timothy is a protege that you are pouring back into and advising just as your mentor is doing for you. Having someone asking you hard questions and wanting advice keeps you on your toes. It insures that you are thinking through how you do things since someone else is watching and desires to emulate you. These three roles in your life can help you avoid a world of regret, especially when you are tempted to start believing your own press.

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