Staying Humble


You must stay humble to continue succeeding.

Your failures will be public, so be prepared to openly communicate when you fail.

Never stop growing.

You will need to stop at some point, so have a plan.

Why stay humble?

You might be a success today, with your peers, but you’re probably not a success by everyone’s standards, and not indefinitely with those who see you as one:
  • While you can coast on yesterday’s successes, your legacy is defined by what you do after you’ve attained success.
  • This should be exciting, not scary.

Most people get complacent when they reach their peak:
  • We usually forget how much energy and passion we poured into our first work.
  • It takes years to build a reputation, but one poor decision can destroy it.
  • It’s natural for our egos to get large enough that we forget how finite and limited we really are.

When you succeed, stay mindful of who you were and who helped you:
  • It took tremendous effort to overcome your trials, but anyone in your position with your decisions could have done it.
  • More often than not, succeeding makes us tend to forget that outward success is fragile, fleeting, and unpredictable.
  • After your success, other things become easier, but not for everyone else.

Never abuse your power with others or gloat over their failures:
  • The idea of anyone who is “self-made” is a myth: other people made sacrifices for you.
  • You were once equally unimportant, and will become that again someday.
  • More success makes misusing power easier, especially when you can get away with it.
  • If you must justify or hide an idea you have, it’s usually a bad idea.

Don’t sell yourself out:
  • Always do what you love, not what pays most.
  • You’ll likely sabotage your original vision if you take the quick route.
  • Once you become successful, your spotlight will fade quickly if you cash in beyond a certain reasonable point.

Pave the way for others:
  • Find a way to make the journey easier for future people trying to get to where you are.
  • Your greatest long-term contribution will be what you give away for free.

Your failures will be public

Unlike before, where you could fail privately and quietly fix it, people will see and respond to everything you do:
  • There’s literally no point in pretending you didn’t make a mistake.
  • In fact, hiding failures typically magnifies their social impact.

Make a clear brainstorming and analysis for every public failure.

A. Closely consider the mistake and what could have prevented it:
  1. The motivation for you to decide that way.
  2. Any bad information you believed.
  3. Insufficient information you didn’t seek beforehand.
  4. Intuitions and “gut” feelings you acted on.
  5. Pressures from a deadline or someone else’s strong opinion.
  6. Whether you were following a broken or irrelevant process.
  7. Whether you acted more on what you wanted than on reality.

B. Consider how much the mistake could happen again:
  1. Make a vast list of the actions you could take that would reduce the chances of the mistake happening again.
  2. Of those actions, select the ones you’re willing to take.
  3. Of the actions you’re willing to take, the ones you can do right now before responding publicly.
  4. From the actions you can immediately take, choose the long-term solutions that will remedy the situation.

C. Write a clear, concise public message that communicates the following:
  1. You made a mistake.
  2. The mistake you made, as precisely and with as many details as possible.
  3. That you’re truly sorry for the harm, damage, waste, or confusion your mistake caused.
  4. What you’ve learned from making that mistake.
  5. The steps you’ve taken to fix what you failed at.
  6. The steps you plan to take to fix the damage or prevent it from happening again.
  7. Invite comments that give any additional understanding you may have missed, especially if you’ve somehow missed the point or haven’t addressed the problem.
  8. Proofread it to express the precise tone or style you want to convey.

D. Act on resolving the problem so it never happens again:
  • Pay special attention to anything you’ve promised.
  • Make sure all your goals conform to those changes.

Never stop growing

Success is a lifelong journey across every conceivable subject:
  • Prolonged success comes through developing yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially.
  • Keep refreshing your understanding and awareness.
  • Self-management and learning never takes a day off.

Succeeding fuels more successes later if you let it:
  • Failures teach us, but they also demotivate us.
  • Success brings more success through our knowing the correct way to act.
  • Further, the consequences of success also often encourage us.
  • Frequently, we can start at a successful place to begin our new endeavors.

Monitor wherever you still fail:
  1. Rate the different areas of your life from 1 to 10:
    • Habits and daily routine
    • Career and work
    • Money and finances
    • Health and fitness
    • Education
    • Social and relationships
    • Home and family
    • Emotions
    • Character and integrity
    • Life purpose and contribution
    • Spiritual development
    • Friendships and casual connections
    • Community involvement
  2. For every rating that isn’t a 9 or 10, make that rating a 1.
    • Anything that’s a 7 or 8 is mediocrity we’ve come to accept.
  3. Work on everything you fail at.
    • Even when you’re doing well, never ever forget that you have blind spots.
    • If you’re your harshest critic, nobody else will feel compelled to be as harsh on you for your failings.

Don’t let yourself get soft:
  • The luxurious lifestyle that comes with wealth can sabotage our ability to enjoy simple things.
  • The lifestyle of associating with constantly successful people can impede our ability to empathize with most typical people.
  • When we start from a position of power, we tend to accomplish new things much more easily than when we start off, and we might forget what it means to persevere.
  • You start declining when you spend more time thinking about memories than dreams.
  • Stay on top of relevant trends, and keep learning and growing as if you’d never succeeded.

Avoid flaunting your success:
  • A lavish lifestyle will destroy your credibility.
  • Nobody cares if you’re stronger, smarter, or more qualified than anyone else nearly as much as whether you can serve their interests or care about them.

Your success may not bleed over:
  • It’s not uncommon for people in a position of success to use old methods that don’t apply to the current situation.
  • Many times, the “correct behavior” that got them into their success is also the worst traits they could have to succeed even further.
  • Don’t let overconfidence destroy future opportunities.

However, you’ll never get it completely right:
  • Once you’ve succeeded, it’s very difficult to tell someone you already know something without sounding pretentious.
    • Learn to graciously listen to them, keep your thoughts to yourself, and say “thank you”.
  • Your identity should always be in something more important than your accomplishments.
  • You always have room to grow, no matter what:
  • Constantly work to improve others’ lives.
    • Give the glory to others.
    • Praise others whenever they’re responsible for a thought, even if it was yours to begin with.

Keep following people stronger and better than you:
  • Read books written by people smarter than you.
  • Learn from people who have grown and expanded in directions you’ll never achieve.
  • Keep nurturing a community of people around you who aren’t afraid to challenge your ideas.
  • Keep seeking people who can equip you to succeed even further.
  • Measure yourself against the greatest people of all time, not just your contemporaries.

Never forget what matters:
  • Succeeding, but not reaping the rewards of it, is a waste of life.
  • People won’t remember someone for having achieved at their funeral, but for who they were while they were achieving.

Learn when to stop

You can’t keep going forever:
  • You’re human and limited, which means at some point you’ll need to stop.
  • After a decade or more of your work, someone who’s younger, as hungry as you, and more empowered by technology has decided that they’re going to surpass you.
  • Eventually, you will lose at something, and someone else will take what you’ve built for themselves.

When you scale, you lose something in the process:

Understand when your investment has achieved its results:
  • Remember what your original goals were, and where you are now.
  • You don’t need to succeed at everything, and are likely unhappy with life if you believe you do.
  • Sometimes, you just need to let others succeed and learn their lessons instead of you.

Start today. Right now.

This page is Part 6 of my How to Succeed Series. Part 1 was Defining Success. Part 2 was Attitude Adjustment. Part 3 was Making Realistic Goals. Part 4 was Optimizing Your Routine. Part 5 was Persevering.