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Can success make you a loser?

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

At some stage in every executive's life there will be a point in their career, or in their life, when the stuff that seemed important, starts to seem a bit blah.

When the strategies that have helped them achieve their goals and successes, don't seem to cut it anymore, and what was once exciting is no more.

When the world outside theirs seems more interesting and exciting than the one they are in, making them feel trapped in their jobs, or stuck in a lifestyle that no longer brings them joy.

The feeling of being trapped in a world that dictates what it means to belong, when it doesn't feel like you belong, can be confronting and isolating.

It can create a burdensome pressure trying to be what the world wants you to be, when you want to be something (or someone) else. There is a risk of creating internal conflict with an expectation to do what is "right", when it just doesn't feel "right". But on we march. Upwards and onwards to the next "milestone" that we are expected to achieve. Not looking forward, just looking ahead.

People face these challenges all the time, and executives generally more so.

I've been in executive roles and worked in corporate positions almost all of my working life (ok that equates to more than 30+ years). I’ve worked in public companies, private companies, start-ups, government business enterprises and run my own successful consulting and leadership coaching business (check out Pearl Business Solutions).

Now I’m, a writer, philosopher, adventurer, management consultant and leadership and business coach. I’ve run the corporate gauntlet and survived - some might even say succeeded. Today I still enjoy working in corporate and helping executives and leaders realise their goals and their dreams – not just in business, but in life.

While the corporate world is one I know, respect, and one that has treated me well. I know full well that I would not be the person I am today without the experiences and relationships that have been built through my career. But increasingly I find that my preference is to spend more time in board-shorts and less time in boardrooms.

Many executives I have worked with or know are victim of their own perceived or created demands that forces them to try and live up to the expectations of everyone else. They want to be the perfect leader; the perfect partner; the perfect parent; the perfect child; the perfect friend; or the perfect executive. In doing so they can diminish the person inside. They cannot find a way to be their true self and embrace the person they really are.

At the same time, there is the feeling that they are not really good enough for the job they have. Living day-to-day with imposter syndrome waiting for someone to point out to the world that they aren't smart enough, qualified enough, experienced enough or just plain good enough for their job. Which would result in them being unceremoniously cast out of their job into the street as a fraud.

Many executives suffer from imposter syndrome at some point in their career, and many never stop suffering. Is it being arrogant to believe you have earned and deserved your career, your status and your lifestyle? Of course not (depending on how you show it).

When the world is forcing you into a place that makes you sad and morose, is it right? There are few of us who feel the total freedom to just tell the world to fuck off and then do what they want, the way they want, without care or fear of what others might think. People don't like to let people down or fail to meet their expectations.

That feeling of being the hamster in the wheel, running hard, doing all the right things, but not feeling like you are making the progress you deserve, can be the most damaging and depressing feeling of all. The world seems to be telling you this is who you are, this is your place, so just accept it. But deep inside there is this little burning fire of discontent, disrupting your thoughts, challenging your values, corrupting your soul and stealing away your dreams.

Is this who I am? Why am I not happy when the world asks, “how can you not be happy? You have everything.”

Why am I constantly doing the stuff that doesn’t bring me joy?

It can seem petty and ungrateful when it appears you have the “perfect” life but internally you are living through the torment of being trapped in a world and life that you don’t want to be living.

How do you say “No, I want to try, or be, something different?"

Is it selfish or weak to choose to step back from a place and a role that many regard as success if it is not making you happy? Is there a way to do what everyone else wants, but still be happy?

Executives like you and I are often asked to conform with other’s ways, needs and beliefs. To be who, or what, they want us to be, even if this is not what we want. We are being asked to be what makes others happy, and this may come at the cost of our own happiness.

“Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognised, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.” ― Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi, "The Courage to Be Disliked”

The way we got to where we are is not always going to be the way we move forward. The “go to” strategies that were the catalyst for our success may now start working against us, and consequently the world becomes a harder place to navigate and happiness a harder place to find.

So how do you find your path, your way, and your happiness?

Sometimes life can be so busy and work so demanding that it can feel like you've lost control of your working life.

That is what ExecEscape is all about (and is also why this post is the About page of this website).

Providing inspiration, guidance and information that will help you reflect, reimagine, recharge and reconnect. A place to explore new ideas and learn new ways to help you achieve your goals – a place to escape.

I, just like you, am on a journey of enlightenment and personal development. I hope you will join my journey and that my thoughts (as weird as they can sometimes be), insights and coaching through ExecEscape can help you reconnect with your true self and re-energise your career, your life and help you find happiness.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you will come back again and share my journey, and maybe even share some of your own journey too.

Be happy,


Image Credits:

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

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