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The Price of Success

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Most people strive to be successful in life, but few recognize the cost.  Often success comes with power from personality traits that don’t bode well for relationships. Many highly successful people are praised at work for their drive, intensity, perfectionism, and risk taking nature, yet condemned for these traits in their personal relationships, especially when taken to the extreme.  Do you recognize any of these traits in yourself or others?

An article written by Trish Regan for USA Today discussed this very issue. She mentioned CEO Dov Charney of American Apparel and his reportedly inappropriate behavior that eventually was reprimanded. The writer concluded “the very personality traits that enable entrepreneurs to thrive early on – self-confidence, charisma and a willingness to be controversial – often prove to be their undoing.”  I couldn’t agree more with this analysis and personally witness in my practice the destruction to relationships. Often the increased power and control associated with success combined with a sense of entitlement and arrogance prove to be a volatile formula for failed relationships.

Not only can our own personality traits impact our career success, but also our spouse’s personality traits can influence our  accomplishments at work. A study conducted at Washington University in a forthcoming publication in the Journal Psychological Science found that the personality traits of our spouse play a role in determining our workplace success. The study assessed participants on five broad measures of personality and found that workers who scored highest on career success had spouses who had high scores on conscientiousness. Spouses with this personality trait took some of the workload off their partner, emulated good work habits, and helped keep their spouses’ personal lives running smoothly. The authors concluded that this personality trait reduced overall stress levels and allowed for a better work-life balance. This study also suggests that people who are success-driven may be better served to seek supportive partners with highly conscientious personalities.

The ways to prevent “success driven” traits from negatively impacting relationships come from maintaining humility, accountability, and respectability.  Leading a balanced life, giving back to others, and focusing on gratitude can keep us centered on others not just ourselves.  Also nurturing faith and accepting that there is a power greater than you will help you stay grounded.  Recognize the strengths in your personality, but don’t allow them to be become weaknesses.  Living a good lifestyle is not necessarily living a good life.

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