Friday, May 6, 2011

How Success Sucks: The Anti-Climax

This theme has been coming up a lot amongst my friends and clients (and I experienced it a few times myself) so thought I'd dig into this rather unspoken context: the messy, anti-climactic, depressing nature of success.

If you are feelin it, just know, I think you're normal.

I recently started another Incubator Workshop, reveling in the bad-ass-you-go-girl-you-rock-my-world entrepreneurs that I have the privilege of knowing and working with. In just 9 months one of my participants created a jewelry line that's ready to be sold on QVC and she is entertaining offers to sell her company before even officially launching (HOT). Even though she is making her wildest dreams come true she confessed, after receiving her product fully manufactured, and showing and telling in the Incubator: "I'm so ready to be done with this shit. I cried my eyes out for days when I received the final product. I'm exhausted. I don't know why I feel this way. But I'm done. I'm over it. Is there something wrong with me?"

Another friend who recently put her NYC pad up for sale and got an offer in two weeks calls me shakily, "Stell, I'm tender. This couldn't have gone better...but I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm out of it. I'm not myself. I'm trying my hardest to keep it together."

Had I not experienced a total melt-down after pulling off a supremely awesome conference in November, I wouldn't have been able to understand what my friends/clients are going through. After Dream it! Launch it! Live it! - a-couldn't-have-asked-for-anything-more-successful-conference, I totally lost it. I couldn't finish my sentences. I was depressed. I was ickey and anxious and irritable. WTF?

So here's my theory: the process of creation is F'in uncomfortable. In fact, if you think about how babies are born, it's usually painful. Moving from one state into total newness means leaving or departing from something you know. In creation, there may be destruction of the former. Postpartum isn't just for moms - it can apply to anyone birthing new ideas into life. Perhaps the ick factor of success realized can be contributed to mourning the loss of the old (baby in belly, idea in heart, life as it was) contrasted with vulnerable, here-I-am-finally-here anticipated results.

I'm not saying all success comes with pain or anti-climax, just saying, if you happen to be lucky enough to ARRIVE, and it's not all you thought, and you're not feeling what you expected, you may just be experiencing some normal, uncomfortable, tension - and you're not messed up.

So what's the remedy? My remedy to most things is gratitude. Drinking in the privilege of the moment. Staying present. So present. Don't feel guilty, don't feel bad, just do your best to be loose, relaxed, and nurture yourself with rest.

I guess this is a long way of affirming, "it's about the journey and not the destination."

Does this make sense to anyone? Have you experienced this?



  1. I. Totally. Get it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Your post is a couple of years old but I found it because I'm experiencing an anticlimax and was looking for articles just like this! It's a terribly long story but it's my last day of school that I've been busting my hump for while working full time and basically gave up a lot to finish. I feel like I should have a sense of pride and accomplishment but I feel numb. I've worked so, so hard to get here and .......nothing. What you say makes sense though; like a postpartum from birthing an idea. In retrospect I actually enjoyed the hard work more than the finished product.

  3. Hi There,
    Yes. Have faith. The pride and joy will come through. It may just take time. It sounds like you're tired. Stay focused on nurturing yourself, getting some rest, and not feeling bad for not feeling much.