We all dream of success. How we define that success is relative to our goals. Some want to be famous, some want to be rich, and others want things like marriage, children, or having a profitable business. Whatever your goals may be and whatever you use to define success in your life, I have a question: Have you planned for your success?
To paraphrase a point Bishop TD Jakes made during an interview, success is the price of effectiveness. In context, he explained that when you are effective in business, ministry, or whatever capacity you find yourself in, people will be drawn to that effectiveness, and the result is a spotlight shining on your life.
Take a moment to think about what success looks like in your life. For your business, it may be selling a million dollars worth of your product or service over the next year. For your ministry, it may be to see 1,000 members as part of your church. Think about what success means to you. Visualize it, write it down, and meditate on the possibility that it could happen one day.
Most people don't have a problem with doing this. We envision ourselves on the mountaintop of our journeys, standing with the satisfaction of a job well done. We can't wait to have money that surpasses our bills and takes the limits off of life. We don't mind being considered the gurus and go-to people in our fields. Nor do we mind having the world look at us and say, "That's what success looks like." That isn't the problem at all.
The problem comes with whether we are ready for what happens AFTER success. What do I mean? Let's talk about it.
1 - Are you ready for the financial changes?
Have you ever heard of those who won the lottery, and a few years later, they're broke again? Or have you heard about those in the sports world who become superstar millionaires but end up bankrupt? Then there are music stars who have #1 albums and sold-out concerts around the world but somehow can't find peace in life.
I bring these examples up to ask you to think through the financial side of success. Making under $100,000 per year has a vastly different set of responsibilities than making $1,000,000 per year. As your income grows, so does your tax bracket. At these new levels of income, your thinking changes as well. Due to being in a different place financially, your world changes, your resources change, and your reach changes. Some people even change their political positions because laws affect them differently as higher-income earners.
You may be surprised, but several people find growing in income stressful. Whether it's receiving requests from family for financial assistance or the need to find legal and tax representation, the stress of keeping oneself sane with money can be challenging. Some people have no issues with those items but have a deep-seated fear of losing their money.
All of this said before success comes, are you ready for the financial changes? Have you thought of how you will structure your companies, bank accounts, financial strategies, insurance, and related items? Have you prepared your mind for the issues and surprises that may come?
Let's talk about the increased attention.
2 - Are you ready for increased attention?
People love (and hate) success stories. You may have pure motives and worked hard for your success. People like good friends and family will celebrate you, and even strangers will admire your story that led to your greatness. Yet, others will see your social media posts, articles about your company, and comments about the good things you're doing and find something negative to say.
Before you're famous, the thought of increased attention can be enamoring. Who wouldn't love to see 1,000 likes on every post or see your latest music video get shared across the world? Even I, as I write this article, would love to see great engagement and notes saying that the words I'm writing are a blessing. Think of it as a speaker or a pastor - I don't know of a single speaker or preacher who wants only to be heard by ten people. We all want to be effective, we all want to be received well, and we all want our work to be recognized as beneficial.
So, have you thought about what would happen if you became famous? Think about social media for a moment. Over the past six months, you could probably think of 10 people who got famous overnight. Now, the reasons may vary. The fame could be unwanted, like a prank video that the world found funny but not the participants, or the fame could come from a thoughtful post that you shared but never thought a celebrity would share. You could be unknown today and interviewing on news networks worldwide by Tuesday.
Successful people garner attention even when they don't want it. Think about what increased attention looks like and how you will handle it. Think about the boundaries you will put in place to keep yourself grounded and your family intact.
3 - Are you ready for the challenges?
With money and fame come some challenges. The limelight looks good and seems like a person's dreams have come true. However, there are negatives to great success.
Success brings with it the requirement to continue to be successful. Imagine your favorite singer with chart-topping hits doing a concert and sounding horrible. While you may forgive that singer, the bad experience will be remembered by everyone. This concept applies to every area of success, from technology to art. Becoming successful requires continuity of success.
Success also brings with it doubters, haters, and duplicators. Beyond just social media comments, successful people find themselves written about in articles and talked about in news coverage. Some people try to sow seeds of doubt in your ship of success with accusations of stealing ideas, copying work, or saying that your success is somehow false. As a creator of media or art, you may have people who duplicate your work without shame. These copiers are trying to gain some of your success by taking your audience.
Success also makes you a target for theft and threats. A pastor recently spoke at a conference expressing that he has received death threats and various other security concerns. What has he done to warrant such treatment? Nothing but succeed in his craft.
4 - What systems do you have in place?
Now that we've gone through a few of the challenges to success, I want you to start thinking about the systems you could have in place for your peace and stability.
Where would you live? If you became a famous millionaire tomorrow, have you thought about where you would live that would be a nice home and a secure place for your protection? Honest question: Assuming you weren't rich growing up, would it be wise for you to go back and live in your childhood neighborhood if you were rich and famous? More than likely not. You may have to change your location as part of your protection system.
How will you stay grounded? Zooming up the charts of success can make you feel proud and even arrogant. Decide now what you will do to stay grounded because what you received in success can be gone in the blink of an eye. An option could include consistently partnering with your church or nonprofit serving the less fortunate in the community. You can go to prisons and take part in helping those who don't get to see much of life outside of the prison walls. Mentor young men and women to help them get their bearings on life, college, etc. The point is to stay connected with humanity. It's easy to tell those who are successful and have distanced themselves from the typical human experience. They are only focused on themselves and rarely see their success as a blessing that can be used to help those who are suffering. Finding ways to serve is a great way to stay grounded while successful.
How will you control your consumption? Some successful people can no longer google themselves. All they see is something negative associated with their names. Determine that you will be disciplined with your consumption of negative news. This setup can be a system to keep you sane while successful.
Who is walking with you? It would help if you had people you could trust around you to keep reality accessible. Between your spouse, real friends, and hiring solid staff members, the people around you help block out the unnecessary and filter through people who don't have your best interests at heart. Keep good people around you, and they will serve as a system of protection.
5 - Is your family ready for your success?
Lastly, as you're thinking about success, have you thought about your family and what will happen with them? Have you ever seen a new President of the United States get sworn in and all of the attention that comes to their families? One of the biggest concerns of any POTUS is the children and how the transition will affect the family. Some presidents have taken strides to ensure that no cameras are around their kids. They all realize that the kids didn't ask for this attention and the choices of the one who ran for office launched them into a big spotlight.
While the presidency may seem like an extreme example, it's an excellent example of what you should think about before success comes.
Is your marriage ready for success? Are you and your spouse on the same page? How will you stay connected through the rollercoaster ride of changing demands? You need to have these discussions now and imagine how life may look. Look at some of your favorite successful people and see how their families are doing. What would you do that they did? What would you do differently? Keeping your family intact through the rigors of success should be a top priority.
What about your children? Your success is significant to you but might be a nightmare for your kids. For example, if your goals are political, your stances and all that is tied to your reputation could affect how people talk about you and the way your children are treated in public. If your success is tied to ministry and you're a pastor, then your children may feel the religious pressure to live a "perfect" life. This pressure makes them feel like they can't make normal mistakes that youth and teens make. As a successful person, let's say you make a mistake that goes viral; as your children, they bear the weight of that negativity as the reports can flow into their social lives. Even on the positive side, name recognition brings its own pressure as kids try to make their way through life.
What do you think? Is your family ready for your success? Every person needs to be prepared for your vision and your success.
I want to encourage you to keep moving forward and look forward to success. In addition to your success, prepare for your post-success life and decisions. While you can't predict the future, you can at least be as well prepared for all that your success will bring.
Have you thought about your track for success? Need assistance planning your business ventures and your future?
I'm looking forward to being part of your success.