Why And How Success Is So Seductive

Why and How Success Is So Seductive

“It’s seductive to believe that success comes from genius, it’s a pity that it is seldom so.”

After reading an article the other day on Huffington Post Business about the “Seductiveness of Success” my interest in the subject was piqued. I decided to dig in a deeper to find a bit more on the topic and what makes those we consider true successes tick and what the pitfalls may be as those of us who seek to create a truly successful personal and professional brand will face as we navigate our way through the path to total world domination to leave our marks.

Every day we are competing with many other personalities in the workplace for visibility. Seeking to position ourselves as experts in our area of responsibility inside our retail organization, working hard to brand ourselves as experts in our field within our networks, and ultimately be recognized as an expert the industry. It’s exciting and energizing every time you are recognized inside your field as having a unique point of view that resonates with others, that sparks debate, and that that leads to thought, change, and action.  We all want to be successful. We want to be recognized for our contributions in Retail.

If you log into LinkedIn at any given time you will find an overwhelming amount of quotes and memes from incredibly successful people, such as – Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Grant Cardone, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs…we look at these people as if they are prodigies and have a different human element or better genes than the average person. We analyze every part of them. Their words and their leadership actions are dissected to try to determine what makes them so successful. We post their quotes religiously as if sharing their words will make us a part of their success or bring us a level of success and attention similar to what they have achieved.

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The fact is that they are all incredibly hard workers, they are passionate, they are driven, they are committed, they are persistent! All of these people are risk takers and they are driven by their original thoughts and desires to bring their ideas and inventions to fruition through an incredible level focus and dedication. Their success is something to be motivated and inspired by – and it is to those who are seduced by the idea of true success.

There is something called the Expectancy Theory, first proposed by Victor Vroom of the Yale School of Management, which is, “assumes that behavior results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximize pleasure and to minimize pain. Vroom realized that an employee’s performance is based on individual factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities. He stated that effort, performance and motivation are linked in a person’s motivation.” [Source: Your Coach].

There is nothing included about genes or about luck or upbringing. It suggests that success, or lack thereof, lies solely with the individual and their level of motivation. [I happen to 100% agree]. The study states: “Victor H. Vroom defines motivation as a process governing choices among alternative forms of voluntary activities, a process controlled by the individual. The individual makes choices based on estimates of how well the expected results of a given behavior are going to match up with or eventually lead to the desired results. Motivation is a product of the individual’s expectancy that a certain effort will lead to the intended performance, the instrumentality of this performance to achieving a certain result, and the desirability of this result for the individual, known as valence.” Valence is defined as “the degree of attractiveness an individual, activity, or thing possesses as a behavioral goal”.

As the brilliant Sunny Bonnell explains, “Entrepreneurs, creatives and visionaries who push themselves to the brink of self-destruction in the name of success are not a novel idea. For those who follow the path of least resistance, the mad descent of perfecting a craft or devoting your life to a business is unthinkable. But for many of us seduced by success, we cannot fathom anything other than a deliberate and passionate journey towards a life of mastery. And we’re willing to suffer for it, too.” Ms. Bonnell give us four reasons why success is so seductive to those who are driven to deliver greatness and originality of thought and product:

  1. We have something to prove
  2. We’re tempted by the fantasy
  3. We’re drawn to the hunt
  4. We’re never satisfied

The Dark Side of The Seductiveness Of Success

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Bill Gates once said, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”. Successful individuals and organizations often feel that they are entitled to continual success in the future. As a result, they risk becoming complacent, comfortable, and mediocre. Instead, they should continue searching for fresh approaches to improve products and services, and focus on staying lean and agile.  [Source: Seduced By Success]

This is the dark side of the seductiveness of success – this level of hubris frequently results in tragic outcomes as retail leaders believe themselves to be the only ones who know what is best. The result is that the emperor has no clothes.  When leaders start to exist inside their own bubble of thought and action, listening to and hearing only what they want to [which is usually themselves], they cause damage to the business, to the people, to the culture, and to the customer experience. This is called “The Bathsheba Syndrome“. It essentially is the theory behind the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, “or that extremely high levels of success or ambition are often antecedents to ethical failure“. [Source: Army Magazine]

What Truly Successful People Do Differently and Why it Is Seductive

People who have truly been seduced by success and are determined to make a difference, embrace change, deliver greatness – just do things differently and better:

  • Truly successful people do more than make money and reap benefit. They make a difference – not just to their bottom line and shareholders but also – in the lives of their employees, their customers, and their communities;
  • They ruthlessly and courageously seek out new experiences to broaden their experience;
  • Most successful retailers look back on their early business days as they entered into leadership and see that “us against the world” adventure as one of their best memories;
  • Truly successful people win because their most talented team members are willing to sacrifice to make others it happen. Amazing teams are made up of amazing employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside personal goals/agendas, and value team success over everything else. Every truly successful person understands and appreciates that most of their happiness comes from enjoying the success of their employees and their customers;
  • They attack everyday with enthusiasm and innovation;
  • They promote and cultivate a culture based on dignity and respect – and this is evident in every single interaction, every single day;
  • They reflect on and can name people who they believe are responsible for supporting them in their success – they value relationships – they are not disposable, they are a part of who they are.

If you are truly seduced by success then you will fall in love with the idea of seeking significance instead of chasing after success for success itself. Your greater pursuit should be to about making your life and work matter, to have a positive impact, to add value, and to influence, support and inspire others.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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