Just read: ‘Success Can Make You Stupid’ at FastCompany

If you were awesome once, you can’t help but be awesome again, right?

Dan and Chip Heath (of Made to Stick) say no. In this interesting article, Success Can Make You Stupid, the Heath boys show how many of Hollywood’s movie successes are self-fulfilling prophecies — based on established links of trust between directors, producers, actors, key grips, and theater chains. Their premise is this: People who have worked together and found success once will be more likely do another project with those people, spending more money and marketing more diligently, thus creating the self-fulfilling prophecy of a successful movie. (Without explicitly stating it, they are asserting that if the same amount of money and time and effort were put into other movies, they would be as successful).

It’s an interesting idea, and very accurate and it’s a phenomenon that happens in business, too. Chip and Dan remind us that it happens in HR all the time, where the star performers are TOLD they are star performers (and better enabled) and thus become star performers. But it happens elsewhere, too: Strategic initiatives, new products and services, marketing systems, you name it.

In other words, if you decide some aspect of your business is going to be successful and you invest in it (either investing in it more than other aspects of your business or to the exclusion of other initiatives) it will very likely become successful.

We see it in the stock market, too: A stock that everyone is talking about becomes a stock that everyone buys. And when more and more buyers buy a stock, the stock goes up in price… and people talk about it more and buy it more.

So, how can you use this concept to your benefit? It comes down to deciding to focus on one element of your business as the key opportunity that will make your business more successful. Then focus on it. Spend money on it. Work on it. Build it.

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