While watching the Home Run Derby last night, I started to think about all of the players that flamed out after a year or two. Players like Mark Fidrych, Mark Prior, Joe Charboneau, and Dontrelle Willis. They all had tremendous initial success, but were not able to sustain it. This is compared to a player like Tim Duncan who was outstanding for almost 20 years in the NBA or Derek Jeter formerly with the Yankees.
This also happens in the business world. A product manager has a hit, is on the fast track, then somehow gets derailed and their career stalls while another one gets product after product into the marketplace and their career grows exponentially.
It got me thinking about why someone is able to sustain their initial success and why others aren’t. In my opinion, most times it boils down to effort and attitude.
- Effort- our world today is all about instant gratification. What can I do now to make myself- happier, looking or feeling better, etc.? By having success at an early age, most workers will become satisfied and consciously or unconsciously have their drive diminish. What separates them from the “best” is that the best drive themselves every day to improve. Instead of only looking at the positives in a project, they look at the negatives to see where things could be done more efficiently or effectively.
- Attitude- being told “how great you are” tends to give you an inflated opinion of yourself. If you believe that hype, your attitude wanes and you become an expert in all things. Being a valuable member of a team is no longer a goal of yours, you need to be the smartest person in the room. As this happens, your team loses its trust and faith in you. It makes being able to adjust to your environment harder and harder until you become a dinosaur in your company. A person with a great attitude is always will to improve and adapt. They are able to literally hit whatever is thrown at them.
There are no one size fits all ways to be successful for a sustained period. You need to constantly work hard and be a team player- even if you are the boss. By staying humble and driven though, you will most likely be able to stay a star.