You desire to be successful. You long to achieve or surpass a goal or expectation you have set for yourself. It is a significant aim for anyone in life, and achieving it requires a lot of grit and intentional effort. But achieving success is only one side of the overall equation. That is because, devoting so much of our effort to learning how to succeed, it’s easy to forget something just as vital as success itself. You overlook how to protect your success once you have it.
Success is a progressive continuous journey and never a stagnant state of existence. But some factors can sabotage and make it retrogressive. I’ve often talked about how we can be visionary arsonists and burn down the very lives we have striven to build. That is because we are often our worst enemies. When it comes to success, no one can stand in our own way better than ourselves.
The fable of the corn crop
Once there was a very diligent farmer committed to his work. He had a young teenage son who was soon becoming an adult, and knowing the realities ahead for his son as he advanced in age, he decided to teach him a practical lesson that would benefit him all through his life.
This farmer gave his son some corn seeds and told him to plant, nurture, grow, and harvest them for him to see. Excitedly, his son took the seeds and planted them in the small portion of land his father had prepared for him. It was the dry season, so he adequately watered the seeds and constantly did all that was needed for the plant to grow. After three weeks of planting and constant care, the corn plant began to bud. And as the days went by, the corn plant continued to grow.
Two months after the planting, the corn cobs were now partially formed. Seeing this, the farmer’s son was very excited, but then, he made a decision that he would come to regret. He decided that since the corn plant had already started producing corn cobs, he would no longer look after them but simply wait till the end of the remaining two weeks when they would be due for harvesting. He went on to spend days with his friends and engage in other leisure activities, leaving the corn crops to themselves.
Then the expected day of harvest came, and when he got to the piece of land, he did not find any corn to harvest. Shocked and disappointed, he moved around the ground and discovered that most of the crops had wilted due to a lack of water and plant disease. The ones that managed to grow were eaten by animals, and the other corn stalks were trampled on. There was not a single corn remaining.
Sad and disappointed, he went to his father, who had called him to show him his harvest and told him he had nothing to present. His father, aware of how he had failed to constantly watch over the crop after they started producing cobs, sat him down and counseled him. He explained that it was not enough that the corn germinated and produced cobs, but he needed to watch over it to end when it was ripe enough for harvest. He told him of the roaming animals, the weeds, the required nutrients, the plant diseases, and the other conditions that could stop the plant from reaching full maturity — which he needed to guard against.
He then likened this to life as a whole and pointed out the need to protect your success at all levels so that you won’t lose it to harmful factors. With this, the farmer hoped his son would apply the lesson as he progressed in his life’s journey.
Threats to protecting your success
As illustrated in the preceding story, certain factors pose a threat to the success you achieve. These factors can generally be grouped into two major groups based on their source. They can either be internal or external.
Internal factors are those things that you control. They come from within you and are influenced by your thoughts and feelings, which can be positive or negative.
When the internal factors become weaknesses that directly impact your success. For example, the farmer’s son’s failure to water or weed the corn crops and stay consistent in looking out for their well-being till harvest exposed the crops to harmful external factors that eventually stopped them from reaching full maturity.
These internal factors come about when you complete a step towards a set goal and then stop putting to practice the very qualities that helped you achieve that success. And instead, you begin to exhibit negative behavior such as laziness, complacency, indifference, poor health habits, poor financial habits, and so on.
External factors include everything beyond your immediate control that could adversely affect your success, such as opposing forces and people directly out to hinder your success.
As in the earlier story, these threats include; the animals that came to eat the growing corn cobs, the plant disease, the unavailability of water, and other needed nutrients.
External factors may include expectations from your family and friends, cultural or gender stereotypes, and family responsibilities. These factors can influence decision-making positively or negatively.
Both internal and external factors can affect your success. It’s essential to understand how they affect you and the steps you can take to mitigate your risk.
Nine strategies to protect your success
The road to success can be a very long and difficult one, with numerous obstacles on the way. As you learn to succeed, it requires that you grow and change. Sometimes you feel like it is easier to give up because change can be difficult and painful. However, you must never forget that life is a marathon, and success is a lifelong journey. You simply can’t afford to give up. You must press on for as long as possible to reach your goals.
When you begin to feel like throwing in the towel, doubting your capabilities, or blaming others for your obstacles, those are signs that it’s time to start protecting your success. You can implement nine practical strategies to protect your success against negative influences.
Maintain the right mindset
James Allen once said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Your mindset has helped you achieve your success, and the continuity of that success will be determined by your mindset from this moment on.
As we learned, the farmer’s son started out with the right mindset, which enabled him to take actions that led to the growth of the corn plant. But when his mindset became indifferent, he suffered a loss in his progress. In like manner, you must always keep your thoughts right to take the necessary actions to protect your success.
Never stop improving
Mercedes-Benz uses the words “Never Stop Improving” in one of its campaign ads, denoting the attitude of never resting on their laurels, but proving innovative force repeatedly. Little wonder they remain one of the best automobile companies for over a century.
The world as we know it today isn’t what it was yesterday. Things are constantly changing daily, and you must stay caught up. Lifelong learning is the only guarantee to lasting success, so you must remain updated and committed to continuously improving yourself and all you do.
Be focused and disciplined.
Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without the core values of focus and discipline. It is through focus and discipline that you achieve success, and it is these attributes that will keep you successful.
Focus will enable you to pay attention to only the things that matter to your success, avoid distractions and quickly detect the things that could harm your success. Discipline will enable you to stay committed to doing all that is needed to protect your achievements. Do not neglect what you have achieved, like the farmer’s son, and become too relaxed. Keep your focus on the important things and stay disciplined to enjoy lasting success.
Be flexible and adaptable.
The only constant thing in life is change. If you’re too rigid and fixed in your ways, you won’t be able to adapt to the necessary changes to ensure your continued success. Take, for example, a writer who is used to writing with ink on paper, deciding they would not learn to type on a computer. This will obviously stifle this writer’s growth and ultimately harm their ability to be successful in today’s world.
Now, being flexible does not mean you go with just any flow. You still need to have principles that give you a solid base and keep you within safe confines while adapting to new things. Essentially, you should stay open to trying out new things or doing things in new ways as long as they are right and within safe confines. This will ensure that you stay relevant and in tune with the advancement in the world.
Surround yourself with the right people
In my interview with Robin Sharma, he suggested that you must release the energy vampires and dream stealers from your life. There is a famous saying that “no man is an island,” used to express that no one is self-sufficient and that relationships with others are an inevitable part of our existence.
We can either change the world or be around negative people. You cannot do both. So the kind of people you form relationships with will either make or mar you. Furthermore, your team of right friends and associates will be able to shield and defend you from threats you might even be unaware of.
Establish and maintain healthy boundaries
As individuals, you have certain things that favor your physical, mental, and emotional health and those that don’t. Therefore, you must set healthy boundaries around you so that people will learn to respect you and adjust their behavior to what you’re okay with.
Establishing boundaries will further ensure that you keep people from manipulating or taking advantage of you. Have a clear sense of identity and healthy self-esteem so you can clearly define what you want and don’t. It’s your life. You don’t have to lower your values just to please anyone. You don’t have to feel guilty about setting healthy boundaries.
Change your perspective
Chris Pine said, “The only thing you sometimes have control over is your perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.”
Just because the phrase “change your perspective” sounds simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. We find ourselves stuck trying to get over something that causes real fear or anxiety.
Perspective is powerful, and changing how you look at people and events can make the difference between becoming passion-struck or staying stuck.
When you change your perspective, you have upgraded your story and protected your success.
Be and stay humble
American basketball coach Rick Pitino once said, “Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge in the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.” From this statement, it is clear that humility is a vital quality to have if you’re going to keep being successful.
Humility will help you stay open to learning and prevent you from taking prideful steps that can lead to your fall.
Seek help when you need it
President Barrack Obama once said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.” We all need the help and support of others at different points in our lives.
Protecting your success is something you can only do with others. You will need the help of a partner, a friend, family, and sometimes a stranger. So, in your everyday journey, make sure you reach out for assistance from others in whatever capacity they can help.
Protecting your success requires consistency.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” The point he made with this statement is that being successful is not something you do once and for all. You have to keep at it and continue to do the things that brought you that level of success in the first place.
If you’re like most people, you aspire to have success in life. But what got you to where you are today, and your success is different from what will likely bring you success in the future?
Maintaining our success is difficult, and if you’re like most people, the very thought of changing your approach is the last thing you want to do. Long-term success in any endeavor requires two things — getting something and keeping it.
Getting what you want in life and your career takes work. Maintaining what you’ve got is even more challenging. Achieving success often requires a lot of risks. Maintaining it may often require contradictory talents, discipline, creating space for mistakes, overcoming fear, and even more risk-taking.
When you begin to identify the success you’ve had in your life, you can pinpoint the steps that have gotten you to where you are today … but success is a never-ending journey! Your new aspirations will take you where your old ones couldn’t, and you’ve just protected your success from your worst enemy — YOU!
At the end of your time here, you want to leave a legacy behind, something for future generations. Let this understanding remain with you as you strive daily towards reaching your goals and achieving success. So guard your success with all diligence, and ensure you give your all to make it lasting.