Why Achievers Crash and Burn


Why do achievers crash and burn so often? It’s usually because of these four horseman of achievement:

The Need to Help Everyone. The more you succeed, the more everyone wants your help. It’s because you’re so good at so many things. This is a beautiful blessing, and it’s wonderful to help people — until you overcommit yourself. It’s time to define the few critical people in your personal life that you truly want to help and focus on them. View all outside request from others as obligations that can tear you away from what and who you should be focused on.

Lost focus. After attaining success, it’s easy to be tempted by the abundance of new projects available to you. Achievers love to build, and once they build they love to move on, forgetting that mastery and scale only come if they stay focused. If taking on new projects, proceed slowly, one at a time, dedicating enough time to each project so that you can serve with real focus and excellence. You don’t want to be a mediocre do-er of everything; you want to be a master of realms.

No Skill Acquisition. After gaining a skill and reaching success, many achievers stop growing. When they were climbing, they were ferocious in their learning – reading books, trying new things, interviewing experts, asking tons of questions, measuring progress and testing outcomes. Don’t stop that just because you’ve “made it,” or else you’ll soon lose your edge and passion. If growth leaves the scene, you get bored and sabotage what you once loved.

No Celebration of Success. Many people knock off goals and achieve big things without taking time to reflect and enjoy their successes. Don’t forget the challenges you’ve overcome and the small successes you have each week. Give yourself the credit you deserve for having come this far. Integrate success by journaling about it, telling your friends and family about your wins, throwing some parties. Allow yourself the emotional satisfaction of growth so that your journey feels worthwhile. If it feels worthwhile, you will keep doing it, you will keep climbing, you will keep innovating, you will keep contributing, you will keep feeling what we call #TheChargedLife.

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Brendon Burchard, Motivation Manifesto, The Charged Life


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Why do achievers crash and burn so often?

They work so hard to get ahead and then when you get ahead, everything falls apart and you start failing and you’re like, “Why? Am I sabotaging myself? Am I doing something wrong?” Well, sometimes.

I’ve found over and over working with high performers, the top level of Fortune 50 companies, Olympians, major celebrity sort of entrepreneurs that these 4 horsemen come into the achiever’s life and it just punches them out. And if you understand these 4 and you watch out for them, then you can maintain your success longer. But if you get trapped into these 4 things, you’re in trouble.

Here we go:

No. 1 reason achievers start to fail is they start to feel like they have to help everybody. You got some success in your life and all of a sudden, some family and friends come out of the woodwork and they need some help, assistance, money. They have new projects for you, new ideas for you. They want you to help their dreams come true.

And all of a sudden, you start finding yourself spread too thin in helping everybody. The community comes up and they say, “Hey, could you give us some scholarships? Hey, could you fund this non-profit opportunity?”

As you get more success, more people want you to serve and, while that’s a good thing, it also ends up diluting your focus. And now, you’re trying to help everybody because you can.

One of the hard parts about being an achiever is everyone looks to you for help, and because you succeeded, and the only reason you succeeded is because you had a big heart and you had compassion for other people, now you feel like you have to help everybody and you burn out. You get exhausted and you think, “Gosh, I used to be able to really focus” but you lose all that focus helping too many people. So, watch out for that.

Are you currently helping too many people?

Because it’s an issue. There’s a balance. There’s a fine line of serving others versus burning yourself out and if you feel like—on your path to achievement—you are really focused and now you are too dissipated, beware. That’s where you will start to fail.

Because that leads us to the no. 2 reason people start to fail, is they lose focus. Your projects and your mission was this. Now, you succeeded at it and you have other people to manage it or it just runs by itself and now you can go focus on all your other projects of passion and now you are like, “Oh, I’m interested in that. I’m interested in this. I’m interested in this and this.”

And you lose focus not just helping other people but in taking on too many projects of your own that you are excited about. Now you’ve got 50 hobbies. You didn’t have all these hobbies before so you achieved. Now, you’ve lost your focus and you start to lose. So, be very cautious of taking on too many passion projects in a row; take on too many at a same time.

Remember, if you take care of your health, god bless, you’re going to live a long while. Life has a way of giving yourself time to do things; I guess, I should say. Don’t try and smack it all in. Just because now you have success and money doesn’t mean you have to do everything at once. Just because you have some taste of success doesn’t mean now you have this, “Oh, now I have permission to do everything because I succeeded.”

Actually, the reason you succeeded is because you focused narrowly on one thing over a period of time. So, I’m not saying, you can’t do lots of other things now. I’m saying just, do them slow. Like, paste them out. Take on a new project, do well at it. New project, do well at it.

In my own life, in my own career, what I tend to do is I build one brand or one new product or service offering for my audience per year. Just one. Now, when you look at my arc of my career, it looks like, “Well Brendon, he does all these things. He does all these books and all these courses and he is everywhere.”

Really, I was just doing one new thing a year. That was it. And sometimes, like right now, I’m doing things right now that I knew I was going to do 5 years ago but I didn’t try to take it on 5 years ago because I knew that I would lose focus from a project I was working on then.

It’s like right now, I have this whole spreadsheet at home of all these books I want to write. If I started trying to write all of them right now, none of them would get written. One thing at a time, man, that’s what made you successful the first time. That’s what’s going to keep you on the path of success.

The other thing that comes to mind is that achievers tend to forget skill acquisition.

They got the skill, they became successful. Now, they’re successful, they’re good at it; they just keep doing the same thing. Run the same route. But they’re not training anymore. They’re not going to the conferences anymore. They’re not exploring and innovating and trying and testing the boundaries.

They’re not trying to get better, they just settled where they’re at and because they settled at that skill level, their achievement kind of hits a ceiling.

And over a period of time, also because they settled at one skill level, they get restless and they get bored with what made them successful. So, they try everything else to feel filled up and happy. So, achievers keep learning, keep developing your skill at whatever that project was, keep pushing the boundaries at whatever it is.

You don’t need a new business or a new career. You need to re-engage with what you are doing and push yourself again. But that’s what people do. They don’t feel the push in this one thing so, they say, “Oh, I’m going to go with the push in all these other areas” because these other areas bring novelty and growth and that’s what we want, right? We want novelty and growth.

So, we already succeeded at this. I’m bored with it. I will go get novelty and growth in all of these other areas and this thing that made it successful starts to fail. So, beware of seeking too much novelty and growth in other areas. Get novelty and growth in what you are already succeeding at, if you still love that thing that you are succeeding at. It should make sense, right?

And I have to say, the last part about it is the reason people fail is because as much as they have achieved success, they never allow themselves to feel it. They never integrated the successes. So, they’re on this never ending treadmill that burns them out and as they burn out, they succeed less. And that comes from a place where psychologically they never allow themselves to feel joy, satisfaction or pride or even contribution from doing what they’re doing.

Everyone else identifies them as a success. But they haven’t internalized it and said, “You know what? I am a success. I’m good here. I’m happy here. I’m doing a good job. I’m still challenging myself but you know what? I have a pride about what I’m doing. I don’t need to go chase 50 new things hoping to fill myself up and find some fulfillment. I’m able to feel fulfillment in the moment because I integrated, I allow myself to feel the emotions that come from doing a good job.”

And if you never allow yourself to feel good about what you’ve achieved then you will always be on this never ending treadmill to find the next new thing. And so,

  • Achievers: give yourself some credit.
  • Achievers: take a moment to pause at the end of the night and feel a sense of gratitude for what you did do today.
  • Achievers: have a practice where you reflect on what you’ve done with your family and your friends and your team to celebrate it and to feel it and to own it so that the achievement journey itself feels worthwhile.

Because if it feels worthwhile you won’t abandon it. If it feels worthwhile, you will keep doing it, you will keep climbing, you will keep innovating, you will keep contributing, you will keep feeling what we call, The Charged Life.