The Downside of Success
The highest distinction of culinary excellence in the world is a rating of three stars from the Michelin Guide. Only a handful of restaurants earn even one star, much less three. Chefs spend their entire careers hoping to receive the adulation and success granted with a Michelin star. Those who reach the zenith and consistently earn three stars are considered the best in the business.
Consider, however, the wisdom of Sebastien Bras, owner of the Le Suquet restaurant in Languiole, France. Bras had earned three stars for 18 years running until, in 2018, he purposely asked the Michelin Guide to stop rating his restaurant. Bras, like many leaders who have achieved massive success, came to the realization that striving to maintain his rating had kept him from becoming the chef and culinary leader he desired to be. The need to maintain his three stars, Bras concluded, came with the price tag of not experimenting with new creative dishes the Michelin raters might not like. So, he abandoned the ratings, and the status conferred, so he could strike out to find a new pathway forward with the hopes of even more success.
Success has a downside when it prevents us from taking the next step toward even greater excellence. This occurs when it becomes more important to maintain the success we have achieved than it does to reach for the next star. A renewed commitment to the ideals and practices that made us successful in the first place seems perfectly logical; however, riding on the coattails of success can sometimes prevent us from taking the risks required to leapfrog to an even higher stratum of good fortune.
Success, and the desire to maintain it, creates its own demons for those who have earned it. No one wants to give up the success they have worked so hard to achieve. Yet, the best leaders recognize that casting success aside is sometimes the only way to achieve even greater outcomes. Success can constrain us if we are not mindful of what it prevents us from becoming.
Is your hold on success forbidding you from being the leader you want to be?
Successful leaders can be the architect of their own demise. It's what Jim Collins in "How the Mighty Fall" calls the "Hubris of Success." We stop learning and attribute our success to ourselves rather than others. A reminder that the more successful we become, the more humble we should be.
A perfect story to serve as example for all of us. As we work to create the local government that doesn’t exist in Cary, NC, we strive to stay “at the top of the arc” by keeping what’s precious and discarding the rest to make room for innovation. Kudos on this article!