Beware Success!

Big Red Car here. Ahhh, a crisp, cool, sunny morning with the sun just peeking over the trees over toward the University of Texas. [I am parked west of the campus on the other side of Shoal Creek.]

Today, the subject is the issue of success.

There is nothing that threatens success like success. <<< Read that again. Say it again. Hmmm.

Listen, dear reader, while the Big Red Car tells you about what can go wrong with success. It is a subtle but very dangerous thing, y’all.


The Big Red Car wishes you and all carbon based life forms success. Why not? You deserve it.

You get up early.
You stay late.
You work hard.
You spend an hour a day studying your profession.

You are a success and you deserve it. But beware success as it carries with it some dangers.

The downside of success

Success has some predictable downsides. Here are a few:

Success makes you a little too comfortable. You know what I mean, y’all. Feeling a little smug and all. Buy a big house, fancy car (likely a Tesla in addition). Show them off, no. Success is getting ready to let someone else eat out of your chili bowl.

Success fills that hungry belly that drove you in the first place — no revolutions ever got started on a full belly. There is a reason why Ramen noodles are the favorite food of entrepreneurs. They don’t serve Ramen noodles at the kind of joints you eat at after you’re successful.

Success makes you complacent — that blunt edge is not as sharp as the old sharp edge. You used to be on the bleeding edge and now you’re not even on the cutting edge; you’re on the blunt edge.

Success drives you to spend a lot of time in self-congratulatory excess which takes your eye off the ball. Hell, you might even have said, “I earned this. Look at me. I earned this.” True that, but still?

All of these things will happen to you. But there is a way to deal with them so they don’t ultimately defeat you.

Harnessing the danger of success

Every danger has an upside. You confront risk, you make it your bitch, you spit in its face, and you move one.

WTF does that mean, Big Red Car? Really, Big Red Car? That’s all you got today?

What is means is this, you fight back like this:

You embrace the struggle and recognize that it is your work — your vision, mission — which defines you. You get back into the game.

You move the freakin’ goal posts. There is always going to be someone who is more successful, richer, better looking, better at whatever you do. You move up from the JV to the Varsity and you get a better bit of kit. You say that was a damn good first inning but I’m playing for the long game here, y’all. Move the freakin’ goal posts.

Once you move the goalposts, you take a day at the sweat lodge and you return HUNGRY. You get that empty feeling in your gut that drove your forward in the old days. You look up at Mount Everest and you say, “Coming for you, bitch. Hear me roar!”

You celebrate your wins and you move on. Do not miss the opportunity to celebrate. Spend ten percent of the money on doo dah but then save the rest and move on.

Success does not have a finish line. You will never arrive at a stopping point. You will go on forever. Because, you are a winner and winners stay in the game forever.

Rudyard Kipling

You are a well rounded person and know your essential Rudyard. You will recall Rudyard’s advice on the subject.

 If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same; 

Triumph and Disaster are impostors and don’t let triumph fool you. Be hungry. Get back in the game.

Tomorrow morning get up early, have a damn good breakfast, and go bite the ass off a grizzly bear. Because you, dear friend, are not going to let a little success ruin the long game, are you? Beware success!

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car.




6 thoughts on “Beware Success!

  1. I got an illustrated book of that poem by Kipling to read to my son. Of course that way I get to read it aloud to myself, too.

    • .
      It is one of the most inspiring bits of poetry for a young man/woman imaginable. It is also truth. I have never found a word of it to take issue with. Timeless.

      It is also good advice for us grownups. I have lived just about every stanza.

      One day, he will read it to you.

      Hope you are well, Karen.


Comments are closed.