How to Prevent Success Disease

By Jason Forrest, an EO Fort Worth member and CEO of Forrest Performance Group

“The toughest thing I ever had to do was get my team to overcome success disease.”

–Bill Walsh, football coach

Have you ever noticed that very few teams win the Super Bowl back to back? This is because of a mental deficiency (called success disease) that makes individuals and teams think that once they reach the top, they don’t need to improve any more. It’s an arrogance of the mind that says that the next win is based on a previous victory.

I see this happening with hardworking entrepreneurs all of the time. They bust their butts to learn and grow and then once they start winning, they stop seeking training and improvement. Eventually, the circumstances surpass their ability and they stop winning. Fortunately, a “losing season” can be exactly what an entrepreneur needs to snap out of it and start pursuing mastery again. Achieving self-improvement through ongoing training will keep entrepreneurs paid today and ahead of future circumstances so that they’ll get paid tomorrow.

We as entrepreneurs are in danger of success disease if we don’t put enough value on what we’ve done to get to the point of winning. It’s dangerous to forget what got us to where we are in the first place. Here are five tips to prevent (or get out of) a losing cycle:

  1. Adopt an Underdog Mentality: Football coach Bill Walsh says the only cure to success disease is adopting an underdog mentality—a mindset that keeps you saying, “I have to work like no one else so that I can win like no one else.”
  2. Hold Yourself/Your Team Accountable to the Standards: As an entrepreneur, there will be times when you will be able to make your goal without upholding the standards. Don’t let the “good times” make you lower your guard.
  3. Applaud Efforts: Rather than just focusing on results, celebrate the strategy, planning and work it took to get you there.
  4. Celebrate Milestones…And Then Move On: Whether for yourself or people on your team, recognize areas where there has been improvement. People get worn out when they feel they’re never going to be good enough. Let yourself/your team celebrate the victory—then fight for the next win.
  5. Embrace a Lifetime of Learning: Most people spend their entire lives learning until about age 21—when they graduate college. At that point, society says we’re good enough to tackle the world on our own or roughly translated: stop learning. On the other hand, people and businesses that foster continual learning position themselves for continual growth.

Just like the best football teams, you have worked hard to get where you are. Only one team gets to wear the Super Bowl ring each year. Likewise, few businesses make it as far as you have. Celebrate the victories, but never forget what led you to them.


Categories: Goal Setting LEADERSHIP members Productivity


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