Strategies: The Personal Cost of Success

Neil Ducoff

As leaders and entrepreneurs, we have an insatiable desire to experience what the view is like at the next rung on the success ladder. And it never fails, the moment we establish our footing, we look up and begin wondering about getting to that next rung. It’s our personal quest to achieve our full potential. We may—and in all probability will—have failures along the way or drop a few rungs, but we always get up and get back in the game. It’s who we are and how we’re wired.

But it’s that, “Who we are and how we’re wired, factor that leaders and entrepreneurs need a deeper understanding of. This is the area where personal sacrifice at the expense of success takes its toll physically, mentally, on personal relationships and family. It’s why finding “life balance” receives a lot of lip service but, like everything else personal, it too takes a back seat to career and business. I remember all those baseball games my son played that I had to leave after a few innings to catch a plane to some speaking gig. I remember the vacations we didn’t take and all those, “We’ll do it next year” good intentions.

In just two brief paragraphs, I probably ruined your Monday morning. Too bad, because if I did, you needed today’s Monday Morning Wake Up more then you’re willing to admit. So, here are some no-compromise strategies to help you manage what your success will cost you:

  • Betting the ranch: You believe in our dreams and ourselves to much, we can come up with a thousand instant reasons why you should bet your home and other assets on your business idea and dream. I’ve done it and one time almost lost my home. What about those “Bank of Tony Soprano” credit cards that you fill up when cash runs out? If you’re already in debt up to your eyeballs, you need help, not more financing and debt. It’s time to hire a consultant to help you plan your way back to financial health. Debt is fine until it gets out of control. That’s when it piles on the stress and sleepless nights.
  • Processor overload: The human brain is an amazing form of computer. It reasons, learns, predicts and strategizes. But it has its limits and can break down when pushed, overloaded and exhausted. When your brain is toast, you make bad decisions and your communication skills go Neanderthal. You mind needs time to reenergize. Give it time by taking command of your time. Make appointments with yourself for quiet time to walk or just get away from work for 30 minutes. NO, you can break these appointments with yourself. I said, “Take command of your time.” No compromise.
  • Tune and lube: If you’re taking better care of your car than you body, than you just found another definition for insanity. I ride my road bike. What do you do? There is no better cure for business stress than a good cardio workout - five or six times a week. I for one intend to outlive my car. No compromise.
  • Unplug: My iPhone is always with me. My iPad is typically within reach. Get the picture? I’m working on this one too. Unplugging these days with all our techno gadgets is seriously hard. It is now “normal” to be responding to emails and text messages day and night - at home and at work. Our amazing gadgets made us accessible 24/7. I really need to try harder and discipline myself to unplug. (Don’t you just love the WIFI on Delta Airlines?)
  • Play smart: A multi-millionaire once said, “I made my fortune working part time—I only worked twelve hours a day.” For leaders, time worked rarely equals productivity and delivering results. Leaders are magnets for problems, interruptions and distractions. Likewise, leaders are master procrastinators. High productivity usually occurs in those moments leading up to a drop-dead deadline. Playing smart means self-discipline and accountability. It also means delegation and not meddling in the work you entrust to others. Imagine getting all your work done in four hours a day instead of twelve? It is not outside the realm of possibility, if you practice no-compromise leadership.
  • It’s OK: Some people just aren’t cut out to be top-of-the-ladder leaders or entrepreneurs. Some want the glory and success but just don’t want to do the work. Others regard just about every conversation as a “confrontation” and avoid them at all costs. They agonize over their inability to lead and get results. It’s OK to recognize that your calling is something else other than leadership. It’s OK to reach a point in your career where you can finally say, “I want off this train.” To my core, I believe in pushing myself to succeed. But I won’t push myself into areas that don’t play to my strengths.

About: Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the professional beauty industry. Neil is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker, an award-winning author, and the creator of the Team-Based Pay System. Neil is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas, and No-Compromise Leadership, winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business. Since 1993, Strategies has been transforming salon and spa businesses into dynamic, profitable, and sustainable team-based cultures. For more information on Neil and Strategies, go to

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