The lesson was floating there for all to see.
He was a 40 inch, 12lb Jackfish (Northern Pike) who swallowed more than he could chew.
We found him dead and drifting near the shoreline of Sylvan Lake, Alberta.
The tailfin of his prey was protruding from his mouth. stark evidence of what caused his demise.
Jackfish typically catch their prey sideways in their mouth, immobilize it with their sharp, backward-pointing teeth, and then turn the prey headfirst to swallow it.
That’s as far as this Jackfish got.
Surely it had performed this function countless times for its own survival. In this case, what made it successful became its undoing. It choked on its own success.
Achievement by its very own nature, creates unforeseen and counter-intuitive challenges.
HOW NOT TO CHOKE ON YOUR OWN ACHIEVEMENTS
1. Don’t become attached to your achievements. I think of myself as a high achiever. My Strength Finder scores categorize me as such. Most of my greatest fulfillment comes from achieving success in multiple objectives and projects.
I’ve become painfully aware that becoming attached TO my achievements leads my ego to become dependent ON them. As a result panic sets in whenever anything threatens those achievements.
Panic influences good leaders to make bad decisions and their success can then lead to failure.
2. Mess with your success. One of the first leadership books I read when I accepted a new role was, “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It” by Robert Kriegel.
I hated the book.
It wasn’t in my nature to challenge the status quo in order to make changes.
No one likes change except a wet baby.
I learned that if it ain’t broke it will break.
Sustained success without change is a myth.
You might as well be the one to lead the change. Mess with your success.
3. Avoid getting out of control by over controlling. Some people love to be in total control. Do you find that you hoard most decision-making? Do you feel anxious about authorizing others to call some of the shots?
As what you are responsible for changes or grows in size, you need to adapt.
You can learn to be out of control and love it.
4. Rein in the unchecked pursuit of more. Jim Collins in, “How The Mighty Fall” observes, “…success…leads to overreach and ultimately failure.”
Bigger is not always better.
More does not mean much on its own.
5. Always remember who you aren’t. You aren’t defined by your achievements. Success is fleeting. Don’t let yourself become known solely by your achievements or you will disappear one day.
When I’m tempted to think I’m significant because of success, I have to remind myself that I am nothing apart from the grace of God…and that becomes my significance.
6. Never forget who you are. You are loved by God. You were created for God’s purpose. Let the praise for your successes rest with God. Great every day with humble gratitude.
If you follow these bits of wisdom you won’t choke on your own success and become somebody else’s dinner.
APPLICATION: Do you know someone who is choking on their own achievements?
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