Satisfaction Might be The Enemy of Greatness

Can you be successful AND happy?
A new collection of Charles Schulz’s writings shows that the creator of “Peanuts” was always insecure, even as he drew and wrote the world’s most beloved comic strip. How much does success color one’s self-image? Does a job well done necessarily bring satisfaction?

What I’m getting ready to say might not be the feel-good realization of the summer!

Charlie BrownI spent 10 years researching successful people and found that when phenomenally talented people speak anonymously and honestly, the most common recurring theme is low self-esteem. The truth is that if you have massively high self-esteem, you have a tendency to lack ambition. That’s why all those people you know who don’t need your approval do in fact need to borrow your money!

Most people who believe they are OK regardless of their actions or circumstances don’t need to achieve much. It’s why the average person makes a modest income and lives a so-called normal life. But the people who have something to prove because they feel a bit less than OK usually need to overcompensate. And they usually don’t need to live in their parents’ houses at age 29.

During our interviews with more than 5,000 successful people, we heard many statements like “I have a hard time enjoying life if I don’t finish first, drive an expensive car or live in a house that cost ‘Oprah-money.'” People who have something to prove are the most competitive. Often drive is fueled by compulsive behavior; it’s why the most talented people on earth drink too much, have out-of-control sexual behavior and often end up “graveyard dead” before their time from all those excesses.

But most people don’t admit this because another symptom of compulsive behavior is lying! People like Thomas Edison, who admitted way back when that low self-esteem fueled his success (he failed an exam to be a railroad engineer and said he spent his life proving his worth), and now Schulz, should be commended for their honesty. Frankly, the more appropriate question might be “How much does self-image color one’s success?”

During our research we had to get very personal and build a lot of trust to get real answers. People like to say they believed in themselves because it’s embarrassing to make statements like “I see a glass as half empty, which consistently motivates me to fill up the glass.” You can’t really pump people up, get on CNN or sell breakfast cereal with that sound bite. Our research showed that the most successful people were negative thinkers who were not blindsided by obstacles they never saw coming. Their lack of faith that everything was going to be OK pushed them into action. Let’s be real: A lack of satisfaction creates the continual improvements that move our civilization forward. And that creates the freedom and great life that allows the average person to feel contented. So if it were not for the slightly miserable overachievers, there would be a lot less joy in the world! Satisfaction may be the goal of the common man, but it is the enemy of greatness.

39 Responses to Satisfaction Might be The Enemy of Greatness

  1. Chicken Coop says:

    You can only be happy if you are successful at something you love.

  2. Caravelle says:

    Great insight – great article!

  3. Great post…
    But how to give a satisfaction in any different condition?

  4. Reviewulver says:

    Success is a relative thing and everyone understands it differently. Sometimes success is expressed in it do not miss important moments .

  5. Rich says:

    Didn’t realize that book had published… sounds great, thanks!

  6. Chat says:

    I definitly share your perspective on the subject although I think your description is a little bit too one-sided. I think successful people can also be satisfied. In many cases “normal” people work as hard as very successful people but still not achieve as much. So there also is intelligence and creativity involved.
    Nice read though!!

  7. Mike says:

    Amazing post, very informative

  8. I love the bolded part at the end, it’s so great sounding.

  9. Bob says:

    Clearly you focus on material success, but what would a Buddhist say?

  10. Excellently Blog, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! Cheers.

  11. That’s a theory I have always had in my mind, the less self esteem one have the more he needs to show off. From my point of view success can not be measured in material goods only. Even if you have all the money in the word but your wife is cheating with the neighbour, your daughter have disability and your son is a junkie, i don’t think you will enjoy your success so much…

  12. Its Really nice article . i always follow your article its really motivational….

    keep going…..

  13. xx1pakman says:

    I think the majority of people who are successful have also great manners. They know what The Gentleman’s Guide is. They know how to dress,how to react in certain situations, know how to act, how to be a gentlemans, how to live their lifes. They are confident, they have a great self esteem and they live with it.

  14. Nice Post…I have read your book “The Real Truth About Success”…If I observe people around me I feel that “negative thinking” is equally important to have “positive thinking” in life as too much positive thinking about something makes us more proudish. We become too much satisfied with what we have and don’t try to achieve more…

  15. To quote Arnold S. “My greatest fear is to end up being like everybody else” . You have one go around in this life and each day is truly a gift. Make the very most of it so that your not looking back in life at an older age thinking “What if”…

  16. Okenyon says:

    Men Forum

    A great bit of advice for my site above!

  17. I am a big proponent of individualism. Too often do I see that we fall into content making us lazy. This post is great. Being satisfied does not make you strive for greatness, it only makes you complaisant.

  18. Derek F says:

    Thanks for the motivational post here! This is the type of quality post that the world needs more of!

  19. very informotive great article enjoyed reading it .

  20. cerita lucu says:

    a good topic.. care full with a greatness..however everybody must read this post… thanks you..

  21. Awesome post! I don’t quite agree with you when you say that “Often drive is fueled by compulsive behavior” though … i think that this largely depends in what industry you’re in – for example, I think that the behaviour you mentioned is very common in the entertainment industry but maybe less common in others.

    I also think that it depends largely on character … if you’re a humble person and stay that way even after you’re successful, then it makes a big difference.

    In my opinion, we (whether successful or not) all suffer from low self-esteem or self doubt at some point in our lives.

  22. It amazes me how people can never seem to see the route of their own problems. Great read.


  23. They said first impression last. This is my first post and I really impressed with the authors point of view after reading the article.

    Cool and awesome. You rock man!

  24. Its often the gogetters who are less satisfied as they always need to prove themselves!! I hope we have more and more people who can look around rather than keep looking at themselves!!

    Very nice post!!

  25. As Napoleon Hill teaches in his book, success is what you make of it, and if satisfaction is a success to you, then so be it!

  26. San Diego says:

    In my view,Happiness is state of mind, mostly driven by satisfaction of ones action..

  27. Cool article, like the Shulz theme. There’s a piece on him in CHicken Soup for the Teenage Soul which talks about his childhood and how he was a misfit that his teachers siad wouldn’t succeed, very inspiring. Keep up the great work.


  28. I believe that someone can be very satisfied with any job so long as they are convinced that God Himself has called him or her to do that job. That is why preachers and missionaries are so satisfied. If they took the time to be certain that God called them into the ministry, they have the fortitude to face difficult times and disappointments. When you see someone in the ministry struggling with what they are doing – it may well be that they made the first mistake mentioned above. When God called them to surrender to His will above their own will, they assumed God was calling them into the ministry. If you are seeking what to do in your life, be careful. Surrender everything to God, and THEN see what He calls you to do.

  29. I agree to this article. We must attain our goals with our full abilities. Sometimes, dont just get satisfied of what you had. Always dream for something.

  30. Chris Chong says:

    It depends how you define success. A lot of people would think that making a lot of money is success and they neglect many other aspects of their life in order to make that money. But usually two things happen. They arrive and realize it wasnt really what they wanted or their view of what success is grows and they never reach it or die trying.

    I think that if you live in america and have no debt, a house, your health and 20 hours of leisure time per week, you have pretty much made it. To get more than that you might approach diminishing returns, where you have to work exponentially harder or longer to get incrementally more.

  31. mark heather says:

    awesome post.. it’s a fact when a person gets satisfied with his work, he stop working deligently

  32. Amanda Quinn says:

    Couldn’t Agree More.
    The self contented who are happy with their lot are never gonna try anything too wacky or adventurous to push the envelope.
    Not necessarily a bad thing – the world would be a crazy place to live if everyone wanted to be “Great”.
    Of Course they may be Great People just not Great at pushing the boundaries of life.
    Good Read – I enjoyed it – Thanks!

  33. القمر says:

    believe that someone can be very satisfied with any job so long as they are convinced

  34. Amazing article. I will use some of these tips for my business, in my personal life and my website

  35. Wow
    There is a lot of good material on this blog. If I were the blog owner I would do another great book with the ideas coming out here! Great Blog!

    Rod Cook

  36. Clint Brewer says:

    Thank you so much. This is a GREAT Post. I think this will be helpful for so many people.

  37. One should never be satisfied! Thanks for the awesome article!


  38. Rare Records says:

    As long as your happy with what you do is most important.

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