The curse of marginal success

In The Woo by Jeff Peyton1 Comment

Jeff: We have a client who is desperate to be wildly successful. This is a president with clearly defined goals and the beginning of a good plan (hire Tin Cans) to get there. This is also, unfortunately, a president whose dream is unlikely to be realized.

We recently held what has become a routine “come to Jesus” meeting, wherein we discussed (per usual) the overall strategy and a number of tactical plans, and where the client (per usual) tabled the strategy and pooh-poohed the plans in favor of “letting it ride” a little longer. (“It” being the current game plan.)

The client believes her reasoning is sound. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. But the client’s reasoning is woefully illogical. The goal, I remind her, is not to “get by.” The goal, I remind her, is to be wildly successful.

For too many people, not sucking is synonymous with success.

Now, for some, not sucking IS synonymous with success. If your business plan defines “success” as “not sucking,” then meeting that goal is cause for celebration. But most C-suite dwellers didn’t claim that real estate playing corporate rope-a-dope. “Getting by” for most business folks — especially entrepreneurs — is almost worst than flat-out failure.

So WHY do they allow themselves to stagnate on stale wishing and the hopeless idea that doing more of the same will produce different results? It makes absolutely no sense.

It has to be an ancient Egyptian curse. I call it the Curse of Marginal Success.

Even the biggest dreamers with the coolest game plans can fall victim to the promise of marginal success. It’s an insidious curse that causes its victims to believe that the worst thing they can do is make any effort to improve. Effort, the curse tells them, equals risk. And even a little risk means certain doom.

So it suddenly doesn’t matter that sales are off by 15 percent and our goal is to increase sales by 20 percent. It only matters that things are not as bad as they could be.

But that’s the Curse talking.

If your goal is to increase sales by 10 percent, DO NOT settle for beating last year’s numbers by half a point. Because that’s not success. That’s embarrassing. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to try new ideas. Don’t feel obligated to the way things have always been done (unless you’re content with the results you’ve always gotten).

Not sucking is NOT synonymous with success. Keep telling yourself that, and you will be able to lift this insidious curse. Not sucking is NOT synonymous with success.

Jeff Peyton
Don’t be fooled by Jeff’s accomplishments in communications, crisis and business management. He also wing-walked on an airplane at 700 feet, co-piloted the Goodyear Blimp and swam with sharks – and still managed to obtain paperwork officially declaring him “legally sane.” Really.


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