Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about the cycle between success, complacency and failure, as well as the process of self-actualization, at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of this video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about success and complacency. Success and complacency. Here’s what happens. A lot of people, they achieve success, they fight like crazy and they eventually achieve success, and then what happens? That breeds complacency. They get that mentality; it’s almost like a god complex, because they made it. They’re victorious. They won. They got what they wanted. They achieved success, and so now they know how it’s done. They’ve got this god complex. They figured it out. They can relax and celebrate and enjoy the fruits of their labor. And what does that lead to? Inevitably, it leads right back to failure. It leads right back to failure. Success often leads back to failure, and we’re going to talk about how to break that cycle.

But first, let’s just talk about the reality in a little bit more detail. You see this quite often with rich kids, kids of wealthy families, and certainly this was the case when I went to high school in Vancouver, Canada. We were lucky enough; my parents were absolutely not rich but they bought very well. They bought a house in a neighborhood that ended up doing very, very well. So I grew up in quite a wealthy neighborhood and there were a lot of children, a lot kids in my school that were very wealthy. And you see this all the time with rich kids, that they become complacent. They don’t have to work for it anymore. They don’t value the money because they live with it. They have already achieved it. They no longer identify with the struggle. They no longer identify with the struggle and all the failures along the way that led to that victory, to that wealth. And so what happens? They become lazy, they don’t work as hard, and the chances of them perpetuating their success are much lower.

And in fact, if you look at the American economy today—listen to this—a full 93% of millionaires in this country, the United States, are first-generation millionaires. In other words, they did not come from wealth; they built wealth on their own. And of that 93%, by the way, only 3% are professional athletes or actors or movie stars, so a full 90% are business owners and entrepreneurs, people perhaps like you, certainly like me, who built it from scratch. So in other words, the people who are children of wealthy people quite often squander it, and it’s the people who haven’t yet achieved it who work like crazy to inevitably achieve it in the end, and then after that maybe it’s their children who end up losing that drive.

And you also see this with entire companies. You even see it with civilizations. If you go back through history and you look at the Roman empire, the Greek empire, all these different empires and dynasties along the way, quite often there’s a rise to greatness, to success, and once they get there they start to have opulence and they have too much money, they get all relaxed, the entire society becomes a little more slack, a little more fat and happy, and inevitably they lose their spot at the top and eventually they’re taken over by some other dynasty. And it’s hard not to do this because we have a natural “me, me, me” attitude. That’s how human beings are.

Now, let’s talk about breaking the cycle, because this relates to one of the models of happiness and this is something I study quite a bit, something I’m very passionate about actually, is the science of happiness. And there are many different models of the science of happiness, I have videos on that, so if you’re interested go to my channel and search for happiness and you’ll find those videos. But one of the models talks about the three levels of happiness, and the first one is pleasure. We’re talking about the residual impact of happiness after the event. So the event takes place, how long does the happiness last before it goes back down? So the first one is pleasure; it goes down very quickly. So we’re talking about having a great meal, having sex with someone or doing drugs, anything, driving a fast car, super-fun, riding a rollercoaster, super-fun stuff but once it’s over the happiness drops off pretty quickly.

The second level is passion, doing something you’re passionate about, and the characteristic feature of this is people who lose track of time. So maybe you’re painting and you’re passionate about it, and so you lose track of time, or maybe you’re having a great conversation with someone so you lose track of time and it goes very quickly because you’re passionate about the topic, or maybe you’re playing sports or playing a musical instrument or whatever it is. So that’s passion; the happiness stays for a longer period of time.

But what’s that top level of happiness? Purpose. Purpose is when the activity becomes more than just about you. It becomes about everybody else. You make it about others. That’s what the characteristic feature about purpose is. For example, most parents consistently rank higher on purpose, a self-perceived purpose, than people who don’t have children because so much of their lives are devoted to making sure their child has a good lifestyle and a good upbringing. So that’s what purpose is all about.

And if you want to maintain your motivation, to maintain your success, you have to focus on purpose. You have to make your goals about the greater good, about humanity, about others. This is what self-actualization is about. This is what engagement, true engagement and fulfillment, is about, is when you finally share your mastery, your wisdom in whatever field you gained it, with greater humanity.

And you can do it for a profit—there’s nothing wrong with earning a profit, that’s what business is all about—but there are three levels in the business in terms of how a human being evolves in business. I have another video about this too. The first level is subsistence; you have to make enough money to pay your bills, and that’s very difficult sometimes when you’re getting started. The second is success. So now you have your bills paid and you have extra money, so you can do all these extra things. But the highest level is self-actualization, and again there, that’s purpose. That’s sharing your gift with somebody else.

So if you don’t focus on that, if you don’t focus on the greater good and on how humanity and others can benefit from what you’ve built for yourself, you’re going to end up losing your motivation and that success is going to lead to complacency, and that complacency is going to lead to failure or at least there’s a high probability that that’s going to happen. Instead, if you want to maintain that success, you have to maintain your motivation, and the only way to do that is to make it about others. That’s what this video series is about. I’m trying to do this myself. And I’m not saying I’ve achieved it by any stretch, but I’m trying to make it about others because it keeps me motivated. Because as my number of subscribers grows on YouTube and I get new followers and people send me nice messages, it helps me realize that we can all share our expertise—not just me or not just you, anybody—and other people can benefit, and that keeps my motivation going. And it’s something that I encourage for you as well because if you don’t, the thing you fought so hard for can reverse itself and collapse. I’ve seen it happen, I’m sure you have too, and it’s horrible to watch. I wouldn’t want it for you and I certainly wouldn’t want it for me.

Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.