Success isn’t what you expect – #12 of 55 things I’ve learned

This is number 12 of 55 things I have learned in almost 55 years, back by (believe it or not) popular demand. You can find #11, just accept that you can’t do everything, right here.

I’ve had a fair bit of success lately, as well as in my life overall – made some money, published a book, won some gold medals, had some lovely, accomplished children. When I look through the photos on my phone almost every one is the sort of thing some people dream about, from ocean views to famous people to five-star restaurants. Life is very good.

view from MalibuLike most people who start out with very little and have a lot of their dreams come true, I’ve found it to be different than I had expected.

A dear friend of mine commented wryly,

“I’ve found how interesting my opinions are to younger people to be directly correlated with my financial success.”

The more successful you get, the more “friends” you have. Like my friend, I’ve started multiple companies (back before serial entrepreneur was a thing. We were just in business). During years I made lots of money, I was the flavor of the month and everyone wanted some. When I would sell one business and start over, I was, like my friend, not nearly as interesting. These days, things are going well and I have a lot of new best friends. Few people are surprised to find that their popularity expands and contracts with their success (whether it is financial, athletic or professional). What will probably surprise you is the people who stick with you through thick and thin aren’t always the ones you expect. One of the benefits of lean times is that you can learn who your true friends are.

Success can lose you friends. I didn’t see that one coming. It can be for a lot of reasons. Sometimes your lives just diverge – you’re vacationing in the Bahamas, eating at Chinois, and your friend feels awkward always having you pick up the tab, even if you don’t mind a bit. Maybe you have a Ph.D. and want to talk about the latest book you read and your friend wants to talk about the hometown high school football team that you haven’t thought about since high school. Your friends get jealous of your success. It doesn’t seem fair that someone who was once in the same class/ team/ building as them is now doing whatever it is that you’re up to. Imagined slights – you forgot to call on their birthday, didn’t notice them in a crowded room, didn’t mention them in your latest interview – turn into full-blown arguments out of the blue.

You may start out determined to be successful to “show them” – the mean girls in your school, the five ‘elite’ families in your small town, or even the people who quit being your friends – but by the time you get to a point where they’ll envy you, you probably won’t give a rat’s ass what those people think. In fact, you’ll probably have forgotten they exist.

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One Comment

  1. What is the quote..
    “Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.”

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