By Brianna Wiest
The shadow side of success is perpetual dissatisfaction.
Dissatisfaction can actually be a powerful agent of change.
Pain moves us. Comfort keeps us still.
This is why people color their hair or move to Costa Rica right after a breakup. It’s why people find the courage to start their own businesses only after they’ve been let go or burned by their old job. It is also why people find it so hard to initiate change in their lives until something goes devastatingly wrong. It is why successful people tend to have a certain trait in common, and that is perpetual dissatisfaction.
To say that someone is inherently dissatisfied with life seems like a negative assertion, but that’s only when you don’t see the bigger picture. There is a difference between people who are content and people who are successful, and it is because the latter pushes themselves whereas the former just tries to sustain the status quo. Without a certain measure of growth or expansion, the human mind gets bored, or tired. This will, eventually, lead to a tipping point at which the content person becomes discontent… and then change is made.
The shadow side of success is perpetual dissatisfaction. You see it constantly in people who are, ironically, most fulfilled, or at least doing something that they care about. For these people, life is about wringing out their greatest potential. Achieving less than they set out to is not an option. They literally physically cannot tolerate living a life that is below their threshold for acceptability, and though this can undoubtedly create discord or turmoil, when combined with a skill set and action plan, it is can be the most powerful and essential agent for positive change.
These are the types of successful people that fall into this category:
These people have the urge to constantly be making things better. They are visionaries and innovative thinkers. They thrive when they can identify what it is in their lives or in the world that most needs to be altered or fixed, and are driven most by their desire to do that. Though they are often successful leaders, entrepreneurs and healers, their shadow side is that they are attuned to picking out the negative, rather than appreciating the positive.
Perfectionists cannot accept things even a fraction less than they can be. People with unchecked perfectionistic tendencies tend to actually hold themselves back (a common mindset is: if I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all). However, perfectionists can actually use this impulse to their advantage. Their drive to do things better than anyone else can also translate into motivation to keep working on bettering something where others would have given up.
People who are prone to overthinking tend to ruminate and focus on things to the point of skewing their original meaning, or assuming meaning where there inherently isn’t any. This can lead over-thinkers to become more paranoid or skeptical than others, but on the flip side, they also possess the capacity for deep, innovative thought. Over-thinkers can identify market gaps and inefficiencies in current systems. They are always trying to break into new depths of understanding, which can make them masters in their fields.
Of course, this is not to say that dissatisfaction is always a good thing, or always an agent of change. It is always the catalyst, but each individual person and their self-belief, circumstances, sphere of influence and motivation ultimately determines whether or not it will be for the better.
The Beckhard-Harris Change Model explains why this could be. The theory goes like this:
- If change were a formula, it would be this: “D x V x F > R.”
- There has to be dissatisfaction paired with vision for a preferred future, then it has to be met with first steps to creating the vision.
- If the product of those three things combined is greater than the existing resistance, change occurs.
All of this to say: dissatisfaction is often seen in a very negative way – an Achilles’ heel, even – when in fact, it is an integral part of human development. To those who experience a greater deal of it than others, the key lies in learning how to channel their inability to accept mediocrity, be intolerant of complacency, and think beyond that which other people would dare to. All of these things can be used as productive means of building a fulfilling life, the trick is only in recognizing that it is not which impulses we have, but how we use them, that determines our fate.
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This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine