The Trap of Prosperity

“The minute you’re satisfied with where you are, you aren’t there anymore.” — Tony Gwynn


If you’re not familiar with Tony Gwynn, he is a baseball player who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2007, and although he is not a president or a business leader, he offers some valuable advice for anyone trying to accomplish something, be it improving at a sport, increasing your revenue, or simply working towards your next goal. I think most, if not all of us, can relate to this quote, because it really shows how competitive our world is. When you first set out to do something, you have a lot of excitement, you put in a lot of time and effort, and that keeps you going for a good bit, because you want to see where all this work will take you. And then the day comes when you finally see some progress, and you know that everything you did was worthwhile. However, a lot of times, people will be so happy with their progress that they want to bask in the glory of it and “ride it out”. Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in a world where that is applicable.

As soon as you become “okay” with your situation, and you stop doing anything to make it better, that is when everything starts to go downhill again. Either the progress you made is somehow lost, or the world around you pushes ahead, making your progress obsolete. It might seem unfair, but this competition is what drives every executive to make improvements and better themselves and their companies. If you never stop finding new ways to innovate, then there is less of a chance that your work will decrease in value. However, sometimes it can be hard to know when you are entering this place of simple “acceptance” and no longer have the same drive as before. I have developed a few reminders to tell yourself to keep an eye on the future at all times.


Try Something New — This seems relatively simple, but you would be surprised how many people rely on old strategies to solve new problems. Just remember that when the tried and true methods don’t work anymore, they become tried and false.

Set Goals — For most people, the simple act of setting a goal can be enough to push them from that place of acceptance to a place of continual improvement. If you truly believe that this new goal will help you and can be accomplished, it will push you in the right direction.

Give Yourself a Reward — Just as you reward employees who show their loyalty and dedication with a promotion, you can also reward yourself for doing something good. This can take the form of anything, from going out to dinner to taking some time off to spend with your family. Just make sure that your reward does not get in the way of your overall goals.

Check Your Progress — There are a number of things you can compare your work to, and depending on what kind of work it is you are doing, good comparisons usually lie in other competitors. Just make sure to not get obsessed with their progress, or you may risk losing your own touch.


If you keep these in mind as you go forward, you will be able to continually improve yourself and your company while hopefully not becoming overburdened with your work. If you feel this start to happen, then it may be an indicator that you need to relax, as a stressed out brain does not perform nearly as well as a relaxed one.


Bobbie Goheen