TalkTyme: When Success Turns into Epic Failure

There are a lot of quotes about success:

  • “Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “Success does not come to those who wait…and it does not wait for anyone to come to it.” – Anonymous
  • “Choice, not circumstances, determines your success.” – Anonymous
  • “As you climb the ladder of success, check occasionally to make sure it is leaning against the right wall.” – Anonymous

Everyone wants success but unfortunately it takes a series of “right” decisions to have the level of success that most people want. Usually “you” and your wrong decisions are the reason why “you” don’t have the success “you” want, not the lack of opportunities that came your way.

The one important thing that is forgotten about success: it has to be maintained. Getting the success is the easy part. Maintaining it is the hard part. What happens if you are no longer able to maintain success (make the right decisions), whatever level it is you’ve achieved? Do you want to be known as being awesomely great or an epic failure?

Example 1: Grey’s Anatomy

An episode of Grey’s Anatomy called “An Honest Mistake” does a good job of showing the struggles in maintaining success and how the wrong choices can turn that successful person into an epic failure.

Derek was told by his patient’s husband that if it came to saving the wife vs. saving the child to save the wife because if the wife was saved they could always make another baby. Derek’s inability to accept that he wasn’t God caused him to make the wrong choices, which ended up killing the wife. Had it not been for Addison the baby would have died too. The husband, when Derek said he was sorry, called him a murderer.

Dr. Campbell, the first female surgeon with a legendary reputation, botched a surgery. Cristina explained that Dr. Campbell is no longer fit to perform surgeries. Cristina and Owen were able to assist in the corrective surgery, and The Chief was wise enough to watch the surgery. During the surgery Dr. Campbell criticizes The Chief for his “soft” teaching strategies, relying on machines instead of actual ability and Cristina for her lack of respect in doing things “the old way”. Cristina reminded Dr. Campbell the only reason why they were performing this surgery in the first place was because Dr. Campbell botched the first one. Dr. Campbell ordered Cristina out of the operating room. Owen tells Dr. Campbell about his discharge from the army. “They knew it was my time, even if I didn’t. I’m grateful to them for that.” It was Owen’s words that prompted Dr. Campbell to make the decision to retire.

In both cases the “success” (Derek and Dr. Campbell) made bad decisions that turned them into epic failures. Derek did not want to accept the fact that he couldn’t save the wife and her baby because he became too attached to the patient. Derek is an excellent surgeon but he cannot save everyone. Dr. Campbell was an excellent surgeon but it was time for her to move on to the next chapter of her life. They both have options to maintain their success. In both cases it is crucial for them to make the right decisions because lives depend on it. Thankfully for most of the world, the responsibility is not so great.

Risk….the Burning Building

Swoozie did a video about relationships but it actually applies to everything. He uses the analogy of a burning building. You’re in a house and problems create smoke at a pace so gradual that you don’t notice the smoke. Next thing you know, you’re in a burning house…when do you get out? However, everyone walking past the house knew the house was on fire. That’s the downfall of when we make errors in our thinking because we’re caught up in unrealistic emotions and expectations.

Derek was so focused on being able to fix everything he took risks that had no return. Dr. Campbell was so caught up in being the legendary surgeon she did not want to accept she no longer had the skill she once had. Every time either one of them performed surgery it is possible they would be in the position of taking a risk.

But they are supposed to know the difference between risk and stupidity. When one is unable to tell the difference, it’s a wrap. Get out. You’re done. You’ve entered the fast lane to failure. And if you’re too close to that person, you’re in the burning building with them. Get out…save yourself because you can’t save someone else that is unwilling to put in the consistent effort of helping themselves.

Set the Boundaries…Keep them or Fail

As Swoozie said in his video he told his ex-girlfriend if she does A, B, or C, they’d work through it. If she did X, Y or Z, it’s a wrap, their relationship is done. That type of firm stance is needed to maintain success. If you do A, B, or C you are working towards your goals (success). If you do X, Y, or Z (ie: your decisions are pushing you in the direction away from success) you won’t do them. Many times the situation changes (the lovely building turns into a burning building) because the person was holding on to the past instead of looking at the present realistically.

I was once a Michael Jordan fan. I would watch him play and he fascinated me. Matter of fact, he fascinated me so much I even started collecting basketball cards just to get his cards. He retired for a minute after his father was murdered but his love for the game brought him back. He was on fire. It was a magical moment when the Bulls won their 6th NBA Championship. He was at the top of his game, and he retired again.

But he came back again and instinctively I couldn’t watch it because I knew he was past his time. He was in a burning building but, his love for the game and holding on to his legendary history, he didn’t see he was now a good player…but no longer legendary. I couldn’t watch his career decline so I stopped watching him. I heard about his last game where he was sitting on the bench (but he got a 3 minute standing ovation), his team lost. He was fired as Washington’s President of Basketball Operations. He didn’t quit while he was legendary. He drove himself into failure.

In the End

In the end, the people who are successful maintain their success by making the right decisions consistently, over long period of time. There are risks involved with success but….

Success isn’t a joke.
Success isn’t something to play around with.
Success is something to be taken seriously…if you want it.
Success takes work.
Success is something to be enjoyed…but not at the expense of losing it.

Some people are meant to have it. Most people aren’t. In the end, it basically boils down to one thing:

“The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly right and doing a thing exactly right.”Edward Simmons

Tyme has left the building. It’s a wrap.