The curse of success

By Philip Park

Success carries its own inherent hazards. To achieve success you had better find out exactly what actions produced the success. Was it a new marketing campaign? Did you hire a new executive? Get rid of an old one? Introduce a new bonus programme for staff? A combination of the above?

Success is sweet when it arrives, but it is also dangerous. Oh, so dangerous, because the temptation is to assume that success will continue of its own accord with no external guidance or direction. That’s the first mistake.

Everyone has experienced success (let’s call it Affluence, since this is its more proper designation) at some time or another.

There’s a bundle of cash sitting in the bank account and things are looking good. There’s a pipeline of new business waiting to be cashed up.

What could go wrong?

The Affluence is violated the moment you start spending on new cars, expensive offices, overseas holidays. Suddenly, the cash account is depleted and that big order you were counting on has disappeared. Now you are thrown into Emergency.

Emergency and Affluence are operating conditions that adhere to natural laws. It was L Ron Hubbard, who developed an entire body of technology for administering organisations, who codified these conditions or natural laws.

So, how do you maintain an Affluence?

  1. You economise as the first step. That means you do not go out and buy new cars and expensive offices. You cut back on needless expenditure, even though the temptation is to do the opposite. You don’t buy anything which has any future commitment to it – no vehicle leases, no mortgages. Nothing.
  2. You pay every bill you can find under the sun, moon and stars. Use the Affluence to get rid of debt.
  3. Whatever is left you invest in service facilities that makes it more possible to deliver. So, if you are a company, you use the surplus cash to expand the factory or buy a new delivery truck. If you are an individual and you need a computer upgrade, you get that. Anything that will make it more possible for you to deliver more.
  4. Very important: find out what caused the Affluence and strengthen it. Here you need to go into detail. Was it that super-efficient project manager you hired three months ago who got things moving? The new office manager you hired? You’d be amazed at what effects a competent hire can do to a company. At the same time, getting rid of a bad egg in the company can also produce miraculous results. You will find that the “bad egg” does more than produce little or nothing himself. He drags others down with him. He creates an atmosphere of negativity and low production. He spreads idle or not-so-idle gossip. I have seen plenty instances where a troublemaker was booted from a company and statistics miraculously improved across the board – that alone tells you statistics have to be held down by someone. Get rid of that someone and the stats will rise almost magically by themselves.

Do these steps – as simple as they may sound – and you will maintain an Affluence. Mr Hubbard described it as the most dangerous of conditions in the sense that if you don’t recognise it as such when it comes along, you will spatter yourself all over the street. Spot it correctly and apply the formula, and it is a rocket ride all the way.

It is horrible to see a violated Affluence condition. It is almost routine in the business world. A big chunk of money comes along and the company decides it is time to splurge on something it does not really need.

In the next article I want to discuss the condition of Emergency, which is arguably the most violated condition there is.