Some you win, some you lose is a well-known saying. We can’t realistically expect to succeed in everything we do, so we have to learn to take the rough with the smooth, of course. However, my concern is that life can be so pressurised much of the time that we do not take the opportunity to savour those successes; we perhaps feel we are too busy to stop and focus on what has gone well because we are too busy rushing on to the next challenge or dealing with things that aren’t going so well.
This is not just a pity to miss out on the positive feelings associated with success, it’s also a problem in at least two ways:
(i) Success breeds success – doing well can have the very positive effect of boosting motivation and strengthening confidence; this can make us both more efficient and more effective. This can then lead to a virtuous circle – that is, the further success brings further opportunities for celebrating and a further boost to motivation and confidence.
(ii) Keeping things in perspective – sometimes there can be so much pressure at work (as well as in our private lives), so many hassles to deal with that we tend to focus a great deal on the negatives. This can create a vicious circle in which the negativity depresses morale and, in turn low morale can fuel a focus on the negatives, which then has a further adverse effect on morale.
These reasons help us to understand why it is important not to lose sight of the positives and, indeed, to value those positives, to celebrate our successes and to appreciate what we have going for us.
So, what can get in the way of having such a balanced approach to life in general and work in particular? Well, there are various things, not least the following:
- The influence of others If you find yourself living and/or working with people who do not recognise or celebrate their successes, it may simply be that you find yourself following in their footsteps – it has become the norm, part of the culture. If that is the case, that is easily sorted, as you are not a puppet with your strings being pulled by others. You can decide to go against the grain and show them the value of celebrating success (although that may seem an uncomfortable thing to do at first).
- Habit Maybe it’s not the habits of others; perhaps it is just your own habit that has developed and led you down that path. If so, your challenge now will be to break that habit by consciously creating time and space to highlight your successes and get the full benefit of doing so. Just as you do not need to be a victim of the culture you operate in, nor do you need to be a passive victim of your own habits – they are your habits, so you can do with them what you will.
- Anxiety Unfortunately, anxiety, which at heart is a helpful warning system of threat or danger, can often be allowed to become a problem by blocking progress. An anxious person is less likely to be confident, to be creative, to learn or, indeed, to be positive about success – they are more likely to be focusing on potential or actual threats (real or imagined) and therefore miss out.
- Misplaced modesty Some people I have spoken to about celebrating success have told me they would feel uncomfortable doing so, because they had been brought up to be modest and unassuming. This is understandable, but there is a big difference between being immodest and quietly and calmly celebrating a well-deserved success.
None of these obstacles is insurmountable, so the scope for taking the necessary steps to get the benefits of recognising and celebrating success is quite significant.