Don’t Let Success Close Your Mind

Success is great.  We all strive for it.  We want our projects, teams (work or sports), children, and ourselves to achieve better results than anyone expected.  We want to be considered successful.

But there is a flip side to being successful.  When we are successful we can lose sight of what got us there.  We can think the process or the method that got us to the top or achieved the great results is what we should continue doing in order to stay at the top.

It was just the process that helped us succeed.  It was the continuous improvement we went through to discover the thinking and the process that helped us succeed.

How many times have you seen upper level managers fight against changing what they have done for so many years?  It has gotten them the success they have achieved.  Why should they change?  They should change because they are open to new ideas.  Even after success we must stay open minded to new ideas so we can continue to improve and gain more success.

After a kaizen event, evaluate the process of the event and look for new things to try to make the next event even more successful.  After the promotion at work, how do you continue to be noticed, positively, and find ways to be more successful as a manager?

Use GM as an example.  They did not change their ways that made them successful for so much of the 1900’s.  Then around 1990 things started to change and GM never was open to new ideas in managing their business.  Eventually, they were not #1 anymore and if it wasn’t for the government bail out they would have gone bankrupt.  Even after the bailout, GM has not changed their business practices and are struggling.

Ford can be seen as an example that wasn’t open to new ideas and almost needed the bailout too.  Instead, they became open minded and changed some of their business practices when they hired Alan Mulally.  Now, Ford is much more financially stable.

While we all want and strive for success, we must remember that a big part of what made us successful was being open minded to new ideas.  Once we are successful, we can’t forget that.  We should always stay open-minded and continue to improve.

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Learning, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Matt,

    This is an important point that all leaders and especially those who are Lean Leaders need to have at the front of their mind. Personally, I have to regularly remind myself to keep an open mind after I’ve been in a role for just a couple years. I’ve only been in the same role longer than two and a half years once and that was a five year gig in an operational role. I can only image the challenge for those who are in the same role for longer periods.

    Best regards,

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