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  • Writer's pictureHassan Younes

The Five Signs That Your Success Has Gone to Your Head

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

It starts so slowly that it’s hard to notice, but success can change anyone. The first step is to be aware of it and not let success go to your head and ruin your relationships and business.

It’s hard to find another businessman who has made as many bold decisions as Donald Trump. Some of them made him millions while others – well, not so much. He’s an excellent example of what happens when you reach a certain level of success and think that you can have it all. Trump marked the late eighties and nineties with many impulsive decisions that cost him dearly.

Let’s just mention the story of the Trump Shuttle, a luxury air travel vehicle that cost him $128 million. Do you not remember the Trump Shuttle? It’s not surprising, as it lasted for a mere two years. The company was unable to meet even the loan’s interest and had to close down.

Had he listened to his financial advisors, none of this would have happened. However, his ego led him to believe he’s capable of making decisions alone, without consulting anyone. This happens more often than you think and you don’t have to be a millionaire to suffer this syndrome.

It’s so easy to become complacent when you achieve your goals. But it’s also very dangerous. That trait could ruin your relationships, your business, and you may not even be able to see yourself clearly. This article will help you understand how your success may be affecting you, but you have to be completely honest with yourself.

The Signs

When you’re at the top of your game, it’s hard to notice the warning signs. They start appearing slowly, but if you don’t pay attention to them, success could go to your head completely. Here’s a list of red flags that you shouldn’t ignore. Don’t worry if you notice one or more of the following traits. Being aware of them is the first step towards change.

You’re Ignoring Feedback

Success changes everyone. That’s inevitable. However, a successful person is often the last to realise they have changed. You’ve probably noticed this behaviour on someone you know, but maybe not on yourself. It’s easy to start thinking you’re so good at what you do and you don’t need anyone else’s opinion. But that’s so not true.

Truly successful people realise that feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is the only way to improve themselves. They embrace the feedback, no matter who it comes from. Maybe it’s from your colleagues, your spouse, or your customers.

The worst thing you can do is behave like you’re smarter than everyone else. Because you’ll ignore the first red flags when you have a chance to change something. And when you act like that, most people will stop giving you feedback after a while. You’ll think everything is all right until one day something really bad happens. It might be too late to act on the feedback then.

Start listening to feedback. What’s more, you shouldn’t wait for feedback; you should start asking everyone around you for it. It might be hard to face it, but try and you’ll improve yourself and your business like never before.

You’re Not Grateful

Everyone is talking about the importance of being grateful and appreciating everything you have. It sounds like a cliché, yet it’s so true. Ungratefulness is the main cause of complacency and unhappiness in all areas of life. It makes you always want more and ask for more, without enjoying things that you already have.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t strive for more. The goal is to find a balance between appreciating what you have and working on achieving more. Instead of always chasing new goals and targets, every once in a while you should stop to look how far you’ve come.

Being grateful is a habit that you can learn. It’s never too late to change your worldview and the way you look at things. Most successful people think of gratitude as a way to stay in the present and preserve their mental health. They install rituals such as writing down a couple of great things that happened to them each day, or each week.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just stop for a second and think about what you have now and how would you feel if you were to lose the things that matter to you most. This simple exercise could help you to shift your perspective completely.

You’ve Stopped Being Humble

One of the things that differentiate great leaders from the average is humility. Think Nelson Mandela or Oprah Winfrey. They didn’t let success and fame change them a bit. They managed to stay down-to-earth and to serve other people. That’s why people appreciate and admire them.

It’s so hard to stay humble when you reach a certain level of success, especially if you’re the most successful people in your environment. It starts slowly, maybe with you venturing into buying expensive clothes and eating at fancy restaurants. You start bragging about your success and then you stop treating other people the way you did.

Here’s a simple exercise that every entrepreneur or CEO can use to check whether they’ve changed. When was the last time you admitted you were wrong? When was the last time you apologised to your team for something you knew to be wrong? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to evaluate how you treat other people.

Especially the people who were around you when you were building your empire and who helped you along the way. It may be high time to change your behaviour and become more humble if you want to keep those who are important to you. It all starts with small acts of kindness, such as thanking them for their good work.

You’re Letting Your Ego Overpower You

Ego is the most common reason why your success could go to your head. Not to say that you should completely get rid of your ego. However, you should control your ego rather than let it control you. There’s a huge difference between healthy self-confidence and the egotism that can sometimes be fatal.

Let’s go back to Trump’s example. His ego led him to believe that he’s the smartest and to make some crazy decisions. The ego is the reason why he ignored the red flags and advice from his family and financial advisors. He had to lose everything in order to learn his lesson, but you don’t have to.

Re-evaluate your ego and take control of it before it takes control over your life. Success is all about a good balance of confidence and humility.

You Don’t Respect Others

No one can build an empire alone. You’re where you are because of all the people that helped you along the way. Even if you like to think of you as a self-made man or woman, there must have been someone who helped you. Stop for a second and pay your respect to your team and your family as they deserve.

The biggest trap awaits a businessperson who treats indifferently those who are above them in the business hierarchy. It could make people think really lowly of you, and they may not even want to work with you. Details like this could cost you that contract you’ve been eying or a coveted business partner.

No matter what they’ve told you, manners never go out of fashion. Start responding with a smile when someone greets you. Or, why not be the first to greet your cleaner or secretary? This is a way to build a great company culture and a loyal team that will help you achieve your goals… together, of course.


If you want to change something in your life, the first step is to be completely aware of it. Even if it’s something unpleasant like realising you may have let your ego control your reactions and decisions. The point is to be honest with yourself. If you’ve recognised yourself in this article, it may be time to do something about it.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out my speaking services where I go deeper into this topic.


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