Sometimes, nothing is more damaging to a career than success. It’s not always easy to see this at work in your own life, but you can certainly see it in others. In the movie, The Artist, one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, silent screen star George Valentin falls victim to this when his past success make him blind to changes in the industry. His pride, success, and arrogance keep him from even experimenting with the new technology of “talkies” and it costs him everything as he sabotages his own career. Fortunately for Valentin, rising star Peppy Miller never loses faith in him, and eventually she helps him grow, change, and adapt.
Has success made you resistant to growth? Here are three places to look.
- Have you lost sense of who you really are? Success changes people. After years of striving and hard work, when fame and fortune finally arrive, it’s easy to step into the success, immerse yourself, and completely believe what everyone is telling you about how great you are. Yes, you do have great strengths, but don’t let them atrophy, or even worse, turn into weaknesses through overuse. Take some time, now and then, for self-reflection.
- Have you become isolated? A lot of leaders will tell you that it is lonely at the top. One of the great things about rising up the ranks is that you always have colleagues and peers to share experiences or commiserate with. Once you get to the top though, you’re on your own—at least in your own organization. Who do you talk to now? Make sure you still have mentors and friends that you can discuss things with. Make an effort to reach out and connect again.
- Do you keep trying to recreate the past? In The Artist, George Valentin responds to the introduction of sound into movies by spending his own money to produce the world’s greatest silent film. It’s a vain attempt to hold on to the past and it only ends up making him look foolish and dated. The world is constantly evolving. Make sure that you are evolving too.
Don’t let success in the past keep you from success in the future. Follow the example of leaders who are still growing. Gain an understanding of yourself, reach out to others, open your world, and step into your future. Don’t wait until you’ve hit rock bottom to dust yourself off and take your first steps. The new path is there. Use your strengths and find it! Get started today.
PS: I’m just getting started watching this year’s Oscar nominated films. Which ones have you seen? Recommendations? Any lessons you’ve learned?
5 thoughts on “Are you too proud to grow? 3 great reminders from “The Artist””
Dave – Your post reminds me of the phrase from Joe Walsh’s song “Life’s Been Good,” which is about a rock n’ roll star dealing with success:
“It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame. Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed.”
As you enjoy success, not only do you have to be self-conscious and regulate your own reaction, but also make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who will keep you honest and down to earth. We all need truth-tellers in our life to keep us grounded.
So true about the importance of surrounding yourself with truth tellers–especially as your influence and power grow. Thanks for the comment!
Outside of the film content, the message from the 2012 film industry appears to be that reverting to the past can sometimes be a huge success. How many awards did The Artist win? Leading the way and introducing the old as if it were new!
Seriously though the film itself is a great tool for teaching communication. No words to offer confusion and misunderstanding, just strong and purposeful actions. Like those of a leader.
That is an interesting paradox–thanks for sharing that perspective Janet!
Dare to be relevant in your environment, be it business or leadership? You need a voice, a sound mind and a keen audience. The trio must connect.