Leadership Minute: The Problem with Success

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“Success can close a mind faster than prejudice.”

As a Marine, I was used to moving in and out of assignments every 2 to 3 years.  2010 was another one of those transition years.

Einstein-SolveAs I checked into my new duty station, I started my initial observations and began to discuss my thoughts on a few areas in need of change or update.  However before I made any adjustments I wanted to ensure I understand “why” we did certain things.  As I spent time inquiring as to the reasoning behind certain decisions and policies, I ran directly into what I call the “But Sir” Proverb, “But Sir, that’s the way we have always done things.”

Over the last 19 years I have noticed that although a great thing, success can actually obstruct an organizations growth.  As noted by Peter Drucker, “No one has difficulty getting rid of total failures.  Yesterday’s success however, lingers on long beyond its productive life.”

The major danger with lingering success is that it doesn’t require new critical thinking.   If left unchecked, the easiest course of action for any problems that may arise is usually the one previously taken . . . . especially if it was successful.

What about you, are you allowing yesterday’s success to cause tomorrow’s failures?