Episode 271 Success is a Disadvantage


Discover how success can become a disadvantage and learn what changes you need to make for future success.

Welcome back to Reimagining Success. In this episode, Anna Lundberg dives into the topic of when success becomes a disadvantage. She reflects on her own corporate journey, explaining how achieving success can actually hinder future growth and prevent individuals from reaching the next level of success. Anna shares personal insights and parallels her experiences in business ownership and running to illustrate the need for evolving strategies as one progresses. Join us as we explore how past achievements can hold us back and the changes needed to continue growing and achieving success in our careers and businesses.

00:00 Balancing big decisions and day-to-day tasks.

03:39 Senior roles demand different mindset, skills, approach.

08:48 Adaptation, change, and experimentation are key now.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching

How past success can hinder future success

When does success become a disadvantage? So success essentially gives you a validation that you’ve been doing the right things. Good job, well done, you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve, you must have been doing things correctly, you must have been following the right path. Amazing, well done, and let’s continue doing the same things. The problem with that is that the world is changing pretty quickly. Be you’re in a very different situation now, probably, or possibly at least than you were before. And the next level of success can and probably will involve different things. And so what got you here won’t get you there.

Your success in the past actually becomes a disadvantage because you just stay on that same track. You try to achieve the next level with all the things that you’ve done so well before and unfortunately that’s not going to get you the success that you want. So, for example, when I was in my corporate days, I was at Procter Gamble, I was an assistant brand manager and I started as an executing machine. I was in a creative role and you’re supposed to launch one or two initiatives a year, projects, product launches, and I think I did six or something and I was top rated thanks to this because I just worked so hard. Hustle. Hustle I suppose you might call it, but I was young and I didn’t feel like hustling at the time. I just got my head down and thought that’s what I was supposed to do and it went well and I was praised for it and Tada. Great results.

However, when I was then promoted into brand manager, that’s a different level of seniority. You go from sort of just doing stuff to actually owning the strategy for the brand, at least for the next few years. You’re also managing a team now, luckily for me, I suppose, luckily I had quite a small team when I first started and it was a really interesting role in digital marketing and so I had to kind of create everything from scratch anyway. And to some extent it was sort of an easing into being at their next level, but through another lens, I suppose it was extremely difficult because I was essentially left to my own devices. So lots of autonomy and very easy just to go down the rabbit hole of just continuing to work. Work. Now a more typical product brand manager, brand brand manager, as it were, would have had even more of a challenge, I think having owned every single detail of every project to elevate themselves above that detail and suddenly have to sort of look at the strategy. It sounds all very exciting.

Yeah, I want to be involved in those big decisions, but you also kind of want to be involved in the day to day stuff, right. So that’s quite challenging. Then the next level up is associate marketing director, bigger strategy, bigger team. And of course, you need to elevate even more out of the details. Now, in theory, that’s quite a gradual process, but what I find in a lot of clients is they might like doing the work right. You love your job, hopefully, and that’s why you’ve been doing an amazing job and you want to continue doing the same thing. So even when you recognize the need to either hire more people, if you’re in a small organization or it’s your business or your team is just growing within corporate, within your company, then it’s hard to delegate. In the short term, let’s be honest, it will be harder work, more work to manage these new hires and people who aren’t going to do it your way and they’re going to make mistakes and you need to coach them, and that’s a huge effort for you.

So that kind of senior role and the more senior you get requires a very different set of skills or certainly an evolution of those skills and a different approach to your workload. Of course, if you take the ladder to the top, then you’re going to be really not executing anything right. If you’re CEO of a massive multinational company, if you’re working towards that goal, but even if you’re at a lower but still very senior level, you need to be juggling your strategic imperatives and the big picture and the vision and so on with operational day to day stuff and fighting fires on top of managing a huge team and many other things, I’m sure. So the challenges there are very different to the challenges going back down again to the bottom when I was an assistant brand manager. Again, what got you here won’t get you there. It requires a different mindset, a different approach, a different set of skills and just a different way of doing things. So again, your success in getting to that point, unfortunately, ironically, becomes a disadvantage in continuing your success if you continue there. If you imagine sort of a graph where over time, sort of you’re going up, up in terms of performance and success and whatever, that’s going to Plateau.

And unless you change something, not only will it plateau, you’ll actually find if you don’t go up, you go down. And certainly in our company, they said it was an up or out strategy. So if you weren’t promoted, essentially because it’s a pyramid of seniority, that basically meant that you either chose to leave or you were sort of maneuvered out of the organization. So the other parallel I can think of, which is close to my own experience, is that the mindset that you have and the ways of working within that big corporate organization, whether ABM, BM, AMD, whatever other acronym, whatever level of seniority, actually is not that corporate experience is not necessarily setting you up for success as a business owner. So if you navigate the change out of corporate into working for yourself, that’s not going to be like a direct application of your skills. Now, there are lots of transferable skills, and you’re in incredible position with credibility and positioning and network, et cetera, et cetera. I’m not in any way belittling the huge advantages you have. And certainly my corporate experience was what set me up for success in that sense as a business owner.

But the ways of working in the organization, I had a sales team, a pr team, we had huge budgets, we had established brands. That’s so, so different to being new, being just yourself, not having the budget, not having the team, having to sell yourself, and not another product or brand and so on, not having mentors and training budgets and all sorts. Similarly, if you continue down that path of building your business, the hard work that you need to do when you’re setting up your business, for me especially, and this was ten years ago now, I was doing a lot myself. I was doing the HTML on the website and all my finances and accounting and so on. I guess I had more time than money to some extent, and therefore I did a lot of the DIY approach. If you have more money than time, of course you can delegate and outsource from the start. But those strategies I followed when I was setting up the business can’t be the strategies I’m following now, partly because I’m in a very different life situation. I have fewer days to work, I’ve got the kids, I’ve got far more things to juggle.

And then partly because they’re simply not the same strategies, it’s not the same approach that’s needed when I’m looking to scale the business, getting from, in fact, the parallel that automatically comes to mind because it’s numbers. Just like getting from zero to five k in income is not the same as getting from five to 1010 to et cetera, and then up to 100k. Getting your first 100k is not the same as then getting your first million, which I have not done yet, so don’t you worry. But when it comes to running, and I’ve run sporadically over the years, I suppose, very consistently the last couple of years. But after having my second child, I started very gently with sort of a couch to five k, and it’s very boring, but I really did a good job. Well done, me with sticking to sort of run walk, run walk very slowly building that up. The same goes if you’ve had an injury, right. You’ve had to be careful

And I’ve had to do that the last few months due to my it band, unfortunately. So zero to five k then, or couch to five k, I think they call as well. Then I did a. And that was a free app. I did the five k to ten k, then I foolishly found a ten k to half marathon plan, which I then managed and I got my best time ever, so hooray. But I’d built that up gradually. But again, the run walk that’s required to get yourself from zero to five off the couch to just getting out and about is different to what you’re going to need. If I’m ever going to run a full marathon, which is still on my bucket list, again, I’ve not made the million, I’ve not run the marathon yet, so I’ve still got goals to work towards that requires a very different training schedule, more support from maybe a running coach, certainly a tailored program and so on.

And of course, which, again, I’m doing much more carefully now because of my injury, properly stretching before or after, maybe doing yoga and so on as well. Right. So it requires a different support structure, different routine, different strategies to get to that higher level. So, again, not taking away from the amazing things you’ve done so far, and there may well be things you want to take with you. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, I think is the analogy there. But at the same time, if you’re now looking to change something, or even if you’re not, the world has changed, you’re different, the situation is different, you’re working with different people, different problems, different goals, you’re going to have to do something differently. And it’s quite exciting, I think, for me, one of my core words, I think, if not the core word, my theme this year, experimenting. Because when you’ve been doing the same thing for some time, you’ve been doing a great job, being consistent, showing up, delivering, that’s all well and good, but you may well get to your comfort zone, or what I called your complacency zone last month.

I think it was on the podcast. So that’s the moment to watch out for. So my question to you this week is this, how is your success up to this point actually holding you back from your future success? So how is your success up until now actually a disadvantage and preventing you from reaching that next level of success? And then secondly, what changes do you need to make? Do you want to make in terms of how you think, how you’re behaving, how you’re showing up, the support you’re getting, whatever dimension you want to consider at this point in your career or business? So how is your success to date holding you back? How is what got you here not going to get you there? And what do you want to reconsider? Start looking at differently, behaving differently, showing up differently in order to get those different results. Hope that’s a helpful question for you to ponder, and I will certainly do do the same. I’ll see you next week. Bye.


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If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.


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