The Problem with Chasing Success

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Chasing success is like bathing in oil. Everyone does it, but nobody likes to admit it. Chasing success, however, is a dangerous game, and here’s why.

When Chasing Success, Be Careful Not to Compromise Your Values

It has happened many times throughout history. A person desires success so much that it becomes a dominant fixation. Anything that gets in the way of it is an unacceptable threat. Before you know it, they are bending their values to get the result they want.

Problem: if you compromise your values for success, you automatically lose because your values are always worth more than money, fame, and power. This is especially important because success is possible without compromising your values. In my experience, I admit honesty can be a detriment to success in the short-term (at least in publishing), but there are other benefits to doing business with integrity. And there is a big benefit to integrity that powers long-term success.

Consider these quotes by famed investor Warren Buffett (source):

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

“Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

~ Warren Buffett

The Key to Honest Success: Provide Value

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

Albert Einstein

I’ve written about circumstances vs the process before, and that same principle applies here. You get results by focusing on the process and you get success by focusing on providing value.

I did marketing jobs for a time. I clearly remember handing out promotional coupons in grocery stores. There’s nothing wrong with the job, but it certainly wasn’t changing anyone’s life (including mine). I experienced far more success once I found a way to provide exponentially greater value to the world with my books. Instead of giving people a slight discount on their groceries, I showed people how to change their behavior. That’s far more valuable, and I earned more because of it.

Whenever I worry about the future of my business and career, I am careful to remind myself that success comes through providing genuine value. Thus, if I desire greater success, I need to find out how to provide more value.

When you fixate only on the money, you won’t provide as much value.

This may surprise you, but marketing provides incredible value to others. Marketing can be seen as salesy and money-focused as it is a way to create sales and income, but if done right, marketing provides incredible value to others. Think about the last time a product or book changed your life. The marketing that led you to that product was an essential part of the equation!


Chasing success isn’t always a problem, but it can be if you pursue it at all costs. The end does not justify the means when it comes to finances, fame, and power. Aim to provide as much value to the world with your skills and gifts. That path to success benefits the world and you, and most importantly, it will help you sleep at night knowing you’re a net positive in the world.

The final point is something I feel compelled to admit. I’ve seen a lot of people cheat their way to the top. Get rich scams still exist because people fall for them. But think about why. People who chase success at all costs will ignore clear red flags as greed blinds them.

I learned this lesson in a crypto scam once and it cost me $5000. Ouch. A valuable lesson, I suppose.

If you like youtube, there’s a guy named CoffeeZilla who exposes scammy people. This video of his explores some cases of celebrities scamming their biggest fans out of millions of dollars. They all made a lot of money from it, but at what cost? When they are on their death bed, will they think about how much money they have, or perhaps the fact that they ruined the lives of the people who trusted them and looked up to them the most?

Chasing success without considering how you do it is not only a path that can hurt others, it can hurt you now or later.

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