You’re Used to Failure

…but that doesn’t make winning wrong. That’s a lesson I learned from Nathan Barry’s “Secret Money Newsletter.”

If you run a small business or fly solo as a freelancer or creator, this will probably intuitively ring true: You’re always responsible, and everything that goes wrong is your fault. But even as an employee at a bigger company, you’re probably not used to being buried in heaps of praise. Most of the time, most projects need to be slugged out. There might be the occasional win to celebrate, but then it’s right back to solving the next problem.

But what happens when you become a star? When everyone wants to work with you, and the money suddenly starts rolling? Being an overnight success is everything we want, but since it takes ten years or more of hard work, it is utterly disorienting once it happens.

“You’re used to failure,” Nathan says. “To grinding it out with little return. You’re a founder, a creator, that’s what you do. It’s uncomfortable to be the person who has ‘made it.’ Often that discomfort turns into self-sabotage.”

When I started growing Four Minute Books late last year, I told myself I’d try different types of content until I find one that works, then double down on that. The second kind of post I tried worked like a charm, and of course I was on the verge of pivoting to something else long before I had written every post in that category that I could think of. “No! Stop it! Keep doing what works.” I really had to force myself. It’s nuts.

Shiny object syndrome is real — but not just because objects are shiny. The allure of “new” can give us an excuse not to succeed as much as it can protect us from the disgrace of continued failure. “I did this, and it worked, and it was awesome. Now let me try something else I have no experience in.” Especially after you’ve done it many times, it’s comforting to go back to discomfort. The struggle is what you know — but it’s not the only way you can grow.

Pause when you’re winning. Take in the scene. This is it. You’ve worked long for it. You’ve worked hard for it. It feels different than you’ve imagined, and there’s no guarantee life will stay this way. But please: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot two minutes after you’ve collected your award. Winning isn’t immoral. Winning isn’t wrong. You deserve to win. Don’t cling to failure for old time’s sake.