Success is like a two sided coin. One side of it is deemed with praise. The other with damnation.
No one prepares you for either.
As humans, we all seek out praise, but do we really know how how to deal with the negativity that comes with being in the spotlight?
I mean the problems of failure are hard. I understand them quite well, having panic attacks and staying in bed being hopeless, wishing that tomorrow will never come. But what about the problems of success?
Three weeks ago, I wrote this post: Leonard Kim’s answer to What is it like to feel like a fraud or to have imposter syndrome?
To quote that post, I wrote “Harvard Business Review states that for each negative remark we hear, we need six positive comments to negate the impact of it. For how much I had lacked self esteem at that point in my life, it was more like twelve.”
When you are in the spotlight, you do not really receive moderate viewpoints on your content or product, whether it be a game, your writing or even music. Even if you do, you do not notice it. Instead, you are receiving reactions on two polar opposite ends of the spectrum. It is either high praise or utter damnation.
The main problem with that is more people who are angry with their own lives will lash out at you, even if what you create is not controversial. Now if what you create is controversial, then there is even more noise. Since Harvard Business Review states we need six positive comments for every one negative comment we receive, that means the negative responses outweigh all the thoughts in our mind and start to take over. It is like a freshly sharpened knife that cuts through the essence of our soul, destroying who we truly are.
To be frank, once I had reached 10,000 followers on Quora, I just wanted to toss in the towel and quit. I did not want to continue writing. I did not want to continue building whatever in the world it was that I was building. Even though I was impacting the lives of others, I just wanted to walk away and give up, because the damnation got to me.
I did not feel like I was the person that people were making me out to be. Instead, I felt like a fraud, which is another thing that people do not prepare you for when you are about to achieve or when you do achieve success.
There is this thing called impostor syndrome, where you feel that people are going to make you out for a fraud.
Because you are unable to accept your accomplishments. The only problem is that no one can call these people out as frauds because they stay true to who they are. Funny how that works, but it is something that a majority of successful people have to deal with.
Another problem of success that no one shares is that the world conspires to stop you from doing the thing that you do, because you are successful. It comes in many forms that I have now come to describe to be noise. The countless emails that come in to sort through, the endless messages, the notifications on different social media platforms. Paying attention to the noise makes us lose focus on what we are truly doing, which is creating. Soon, if we are not careful, it absorbs us and takes us away.
When I released my first book, I was unable to focus on writing. Instead, I obsessed over every single review I received. The funny thing is, all the reviews that were condemning me were not even verified purchases. Some were made by the same person. Yet, I still let each review get to me. I read them over and over while I dwelled upon them. They took me away from being able to do what I needed to do. This, combined with a lack of sleep and lack of self confidence just took a toll on my life. It caused me to lose some great friends who have supported me, just because I was unprepared for what was to come.
These key problems do not arise until after success starts to come your way though. Prior to that, in the beginning phases, people turn on you. People who you thought were your friends start to take attacks at you. They try to condemn and smear you. They see you rise up and they want to hold you down. That envy they hold creates loss of friendships in people whom you once trusted. Or there are also the people whom you hardly knew that cling closer to you, trying to take a free ride on your success. Deciphering who is real and who is fake becomes an even harder task for the mind to figure out.
Trying to weave and sort through all this newfound data takes a lot of time. The problem with most people who achieve success quickly is that they are unable to sort and process the information correctly in their mind in a timely manner. When I used to go out with my old mentor, he told me that when data filled into our brain cells at a rapid rate, one of two things could happen; The cell could duplicate, being able to store additional data or it could perturb and burst. I am sure you can figure out the consequences of what happens when a brain cell bursts. Just think of all the people who could not handle the spotlight and had to walk away from their success.
That being said, it takes a lot of self discovery to become immune to all this and to overcome the side effects of success. What makes it even harder is that no one prepares us for success, or warns us of what to expect when we walk on this path. If we were prepared and knew what negative things to expect at the other end of our journey, it may become a lot easier for us to overcome the obstacles and roadblocks on our own paths to success.
Originally posted on Quora.