Welcome to this month’s newsletter. This time I would like to discuss one of the most common phenomena we experience in life. It can appear that often we lose our magic touch from our early successes and come to believe that ‘beginner’s luck’ seems to belong only to beginners.
Have you noticed that when we get older, we seem to spend a lot more time making decisions or making change in regard to just about anything? This is especially true in areas that we have some experience in. Let’s look at some examples:
- You may have been a property salesman with a lot of experience in selling properties in the past, but now you find it hard to find customers to sell to, and you seem to be powerless to make that change;
- You may have been a successful corporate manager in the past turning around many businesses, but you are finding it hard to make any significant improvements in the business you are managing at the moment;
- You may have been a very successful property investor before, but now you seem to have difficulty finding anything you like in the market, let alone picking up some substantial undervalued properties;
- You may have done a few development projects successfully before, but now you just can’t seem to find that magic touch any more, you just seem to have bad luck one after another recently on your projects;
It is almost an undeniable fact that for many people, we just can’t seem to be able to repeat something we did successfully before. We often call our own early success “beginner’s luck” and dismiss it. We then go out and read books on success to see how other people, rather than ourselves, have done well so that we can learn from them.
Here is what I think is missing from this picture:
- We often don’t learn much when we are doing well, in fact, most of us tend to ignore all the external factors and conditions surrounding our success at the time and blindly believe that we actually are the whole reason why things went well. E.g. you often hear people saying what they have achieved as a manager or salesman in the past during their job interview, completely ignoring the enabling factors from their managers and their team, or the overall environment that contributed to their success at that time.
- When we were having early success in our endeavours, even with little or no experience, we often had one thing that we may not have today: that is curiosity and excitement. Like a kid trying something new, we were completely dedicated to our task, body, mind and soul, like an inexperienced mother looking after her new born baby, nothing else gets in the way. How can you not succeed when you have total focus? We often lose that focus when we have to repeat similar things over and over again, in fact we may have believed that we know it all, it is all other people’s faults and stop listening.
- Early successes could lead people to arrogance and entitlement, or at least start taking things easier. When we believe we are actually more capable than we really are, our ego can push us to take on bigger challenge but our willingness to learn and improve goes downwards. This combination can leave many people stuck in a higher position (at least in their minds) with more and more frustration in life. After a few setbacks, their confidence in themselves gets chipped away each day to the point they start to become whingers of their organization or community.
So how do we fix this “beginner’s luck” problem? I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few I have tried:
- Be realistic with ourselves. When we think we are very good, we are actually not that good; when we think we are very bad, we are actually not that bad. At least give some credit to the people who supported us in our early success so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
- Bring back the excitement, curiosity and passion you possessed when you had your early success. Two things worth trying:
- Come clean on any wrongdoings you may have on the subject, so that you can stop avoiding the real issues. E.g. If you were a salesman exaggerating the benefits of your products in the past, make sure you confront your past behaviour and do not repeat it again. If you were a manager who didn’t hold yourself accountable for your results in the past, make sure you confront your weakness and start taking on accountability for the results of your group.
- Find something new and exciting from your old game. Be a beginner again. Whatever you think you’re familiar with, set some new targets you haven’t achieved before or new ways to do the same thing, so that you’re forced to learn and improve, and bring back your curiosity and excitement for trying something new. In other words, it is your responsibility to keep your life interesting even if it seems the same to other people.
Until next month, hope you find new excitement in what you do.