John Maxwell on Leadership

Closing the Success Gap, Part 2


In my last post, I wrote about one big misconception that makes people think that success is farther away from them than it really is: the idea that success is really hard to achieve. I defined success differently and gave a game plan for closing the gap between us and our goals.

Today, let’s talk about a couple other wrong ideas that people have about success:

People think successful people are more important than they really are.

I believe average people think that successful people are more important than they really are. And unfortunately, I think many successful people also think that they are more important than they really are. Often, the more successful a person is, the more others want to make them a star.

If you are someone that others consider successful, I have a question for you: Do you want to have fans, or friends? If I’m trying to develop fans, I’ll try to impress them, to show off my achievements. But I’m not interested in having fans. I’d much rather have friends. With friends, I get to connect. I have the opportunity to learn from them. We can help each other grow. With friends, the relationship is mutual, and for that reason, it can be lasting.

If you want friends, then you need to visually close the success gap. Don’t let others make you a star by creating a distance between you and others. Instead, walk slowly through the crowd. Make eye contact, say hello, and give someone a hug. Let people know that you want to connect with them, and you can shrink the gap between where you are and where they are.

People think that success will do more for them than it really will.

So many people make success a goal, but for the wrong reason. They think achieving success will give them something almost magical. That life will suddenly be wonderful, their problems will disappear, and they’ll be able to rest and relax.

But the reality is that, while success can be great, it doesn’t do as much for us as we often believe. For example, success doesn’t provide a resting place. As a public speaker, I recognize that I’m only as good as my last message. A golfer is only as good as his last tournament. A salesperson is only as good as her last sale.

Don’t rely on past success to continue serving you today. We all have to continually strive to discover and develop our strengths, and to use them to help others. This is the only way to achieve lasting success that matters.

The success gap is a real problem, both for those who have achieved some level of success, and for those who hope to achieve it. The only way to close it is to remember that…

  • Success is not as hard to achieve as it often looks,
  • Successful people are not more important than others, and
  • Success will only do so much for you.

By having a realistic definition of success and an understanding of what it can and cannot do, we can have a right perspective on it and do our best to close the success gap between ourselves and others.


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