Our brains are designed to find patterns…
So when you do something that yields positive results (“success”), we tend to repeat that pattern.
Imagine your favorite recipe, or the route you take to work…it’s been successful for you, so you repeat it.
Also, we are born and conditioned to stay away from “failure”, so we are highly motivated to take the path that will most likely lead to success.
In turn, this makes us less likely to explore new ideas, methods or “paths”
In short, success makes you less teachable
Ever meet someone who doesn’t like to learn new things, or consider updated data, findings or context?
They’re generally not very successful, and that sucks (no one wants that).
Don’t fret, as there are methods to address this
Method One: reset to zero
Once you hit your goal (success), celebrate for a minute or two, take away some key learnings, and move on.
This means erasing any trophy of the milestone you achieved, or ever bragging about it again, and only retaining the residual learnings.
Method Two: focus on the journey, not the achievement
This means being present and fully aware of what you are doing, while you are doing it, and appreciating the work itself (i.e. the practice hours, the rough draft, the white-boarding sessions, etc.)
The truth is that both these methods are good, but not sufficient.
To fully safeguard against declining success, there is one more method you will need to include…
Method Three: reframe the goal
Remember this one: success makes you less teachable?
What if we focused on being teachable and stopped thinking about success?
If we focus on being teachable (not successful), we rewire our brains to stay open minded, experimental, curious, and a bit uncomfortable with the status-quo.
And here’s the kicker…
success is a byproduct of being teachable
(let that marinate a bit)
So if you focus on being teachable, you will experience success along the way, without becoming arrogant, stale, or just plain wrong.
Bonus point: never stop being a student
Double bonus point: share what you learn with others (studies show this reinforces the notion of continuous learning)
The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.- Bertrand Russell