How to escape the inherent dangers of becoming successful too quickly

Written by
Written by

Deolu Akinyemi

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the Paranoid survive. – Andrew Grove

The statement “success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, and only the paranoid survive” was coined by Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel. This statement implies that success can sometimes lead to a false sense of security, which can cause people and organizations to become complacent and lose their competitive edge. If not corrected, this complacency can ultimately lead to failure.

One example of this can be seen in the downfall of Blockbuster. Blockbuster was once the dominant force in the video rental industry, with thousands of stores worldwide. However, the company became complacent and failed to adapt to changes in the market, such as the rise of online streaming services like Netflix. As a result, Blockbuster ultimately filed for bankruptcy, while Netflix emerged as the industry leader.

Another example can be seen in Kodak, a company that was once a major player in the photography industry. Despite being the inventor of the digital camera, Kodak failed to capitalize on its invention and instead continued to focus on its traditional film business. This complacency led to the company’s downfall, as competitors like Canon and Nikon quickly embraced digital technology and gained market share. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

To get more examples, simply look at the graveyard of so many companies that were once the toast of their industry that are gone today and have given way to others. It’s a healthy list featuring names like – Sears, Nokia, MySpace, Blackberry, polaroid, etc.

On the other hand, there are many examples of companies that have embraced paranoia and continued to innovate and succeed in the face of success. One such example is Apple, which has successfully maintained its dominance in the tech industry by continuously innovating and anticipating the needs and wants of its customers. Apple’s “paranoid” approach has led to the development of new products and technologies, such as the iPhone and iPad, which have revolutionized the way people communicate and consume media.

Amazon is another company that has consistently embraced paranoia and innovation since its inception. Despite being the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon has continued to experiment with new business models and technologies, such as drone delivery and artificial intelligence, to stay ahead of the competition.

These companies are also not few, many of the companies that have continued to stay relevant today have done so on the back of being paranoid. Companies in this category include Google, Netflix, and Tesla, to name a few.

In conclusion, the statement “success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, and only the paranoid survive” highlights the importance of remaining vigilant and continuously innovating, even in the face of success. The examples of Blockbuster and Kodak demonstrate the dangers of becoming complacent and failing to adapt to changes in the market. On the other hand, the success of companies like Apple illustrates the importance of embracing a “paranoid” approach and continuously striving for innovation and improvement.

If you think you have made it, think again! If you feel you are small, leverage your size. Only the paranoid survive!


Kind Regards,

Adeolu Akinyemi.

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