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Can Success Be Disastrous?
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Can Success Be Disastrous?

What would you answer if someone asked you ‘can success be disastrous?’ This was a question that I was asked by a friend this week and I have to confess I was initially stumped because I hadn’t been expecting it. Well I know people who appear successful and yet it doesn’t appear to bring them happiness – but does that make success disastrous? No I didn’t think so. I wanted to know why they had asked.

It seems that their marriage is in trouble and the root cause is the business she’d started three years ago, is becoming increasingly successful and she is having to devote more and more time to it and her husband who had previously been very supportive is now beginning to resent her success. She is worried that the success of her business is now going to be disastrous for her marriage. I hope it isn’t but I did go away after our conversation thinking about the nature of success and whether there really are occasions when success can be disastrous.

Of course, when I thought about it success itself isn’t disastrous. However, our reactions to it and the reactions of others that makes the difference. Success can and should evoke a huge amount of pleasure, but unfortunately it can also cause us to be irritated and dissatisfied and at worse can lead to such unhappiness that our behaviour may turn it into a disaster.

So what can we do to ensure that success isn’t disastrous?

Follow your own dreams – not someone else’s: There’s many a child who’s been pressurised to follow the dreams their parents have subscribed for them. Remember as an adult you have a choice.

Identify what success means to you and how you will feel when you attain it: Striving for success without thinking about outcome and impact will make you unhappy.

Discuss your hopes for success: Success is rarely an individual thing and often depends on the support or assistance of others. Make sure that you discuss it so they understand.

Stay in the moment and don’t always be looking for the next best thing: Don’t add to your own stress by always thinking that you have to achieve even more success without first enjoying what you have achieved.

Own your success: Be responsible for your success and make it what you want it to be.

Ignore any doubters or detractors : If people react negatively to your success talk to them about it or ignore them. Remember some will be jealous of your success.

Don’t self medicate: Success can bring added pressure and stress. Don’t choose alcohol, drugs or any destructive behaviour to manage it.


Understanding what success means for you and the impact that it will have on you and others will help to ensure that it’s something that is enjoyable and you can celebrate. Can success be disastrous? Only if you let it.

Street Talk

Again, great timing.

  about 1 decade ago


  about 1 decade ago

Great article Beverley. I've seen some people who say they have it all, look very stressed or unhappy' Then later on you find out that their marriage fell apart, because they didn't have time for anything except their business. It's hard for some people to find that life balance, but it's the only way to have a happy life.

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Linda. Yes I too have seen many people who are very unhappy for all their supposed success, generally because they kept their eyes in one direction and never thought about the implications of their choices. It is difficult to get that balance right.

  about 1 decade ago

The key is to have balance, I think. Sometimes in order to be successful a business requires more and more time, detracting from spouse time! Just something I have experienced as the business owner and as the spouse of a business owner. Maybe it is a situation that requires involving the spouse more which will mean more time spent with one another. Just an outsiders view. Really liked your points about success and how to view it!

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. You're right. Balance is the key, but in our often hectic lives there are too many of use who don't get that balance right.

  about 1 decade ago
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