Many people work, pray and read books on how to be successful but they are ignorant of the dark sides of getting to the top of the ladder.
At the 2018 Flourish Africa Conference, Toyin Sanni, the CEO of Emerging Africa Capital Group with over 30 years experience in Corporate Finance, Law and Investor Services talks about five dark sides of success that nobody talks about.
Life is not fair especially to women
You will need to fight for your dreams, vision and opportunities. You will need to fight for your right, inheritance and entitlement. Then at some point, you will need to fight for funding to start your mission. What makes the difference between those who accomplish and those who do not, is determination and guts.
Sometimes, you want equal opportunity with the men but you are complaining about the heat. So, be tenacious and gutsy because that always determine who win at the end of the day.
Material success is not an end in itself
Money will not make you happy. You will not automatically become happy because money entered into your account. The reason why a lot of billionaires and rich people commit suicide is because they set some target that “when I hit the target, I will be happy,” and then they hit the target, happiness did not come and suddenly they felt empty.
If you know today, that there is a void in your heart or life that money cannot fill, you need to prepare today for what and whom would fill that void. But I advise that you fill that void with God. By having love and passion for him.
Also, have a goal and target that is beyond yourself, family and immediate needs such that even when you achieve your career desires, you will keep running. If you do not develop this, when you achieve your success, emptiness will come and haunt you.
The betrayal of friends
Nobody will tell you that your friends today will not always be your friends. Nobody will tell you that some of your friends will leave you after you succeed or you will discover that some of them are simply with you because they see you as a ladder to their success. I have a good example of this.
After some of what I thought was a modestly successful career but which some people thought was a widely successful career, I lost my job and when I lost it, I started praying with my friends and in particular, I had a prayer partner that I was praying for to get a better job. And after some months, God did it. I got a job that was several times better than the job that I lost and then guess who I first called-my prayer partner.
I was screaming, “it has happened. God has done it,” and she said, “what, calm down and talk,” and I said “oh I got this new offer,” and I explained the details of the offer to her and the phone went dead. The line went silent, the pause was so long that it became uncomfortable and I said “are you not there? Isn’t this what we’ve been praying for?” And finally my friend went “hmmmm, that is how you know how to organize yourself,” and she cut the call.
I learnt a big lesson on that day. It is not everybody that is praying with you that is actually hoping that your prayer would get answered. Many of them are consoling themselves with your difficulty and they are saying to themselves, “so the rich also cry.” So, be prepared that not everybody that is smiling at you, praying with you and holding hands with you, that is actually looking up to your success.
The problem with some of us is that we get bitter and tell ourselves that, “after that I will never help anybody again. I will never trust anybody again.” Please don’t do that. The reason why God is promoting you is because he knows that you will continue to support people. I still speak and help this person till date but I don’t share my prayer points with them again.
The lack of sincere feedback
The higher up you go, the more people around you are convinced that they need to tell you what you want to hear. Why do we seem to have many leadership problems in our nation today? Do the aides and the advisers of the leaders tell them the real thing going on in the country?
So many summarize the news for them and many times, they give them the summary of what they would like to hear. So if many people complain and one person praises, the leader gets to hear the one person’s praise.
The lesson for you is that don’t get high on your own supply. Read the news yourself, attend to your customers yourself, listen to your customers yourself because you will receive all kinds of reports and many of those reports have been doctored. I discovered this the first time I became a managing director.
When I was 27, I wrote a 10-year plan and I said by the time I was 37, I wanted to be a CEO. By the grace of God, I accomplished it but one of the biggest shocks once I became a CEO at 37 was that all the sincere feedbacks stopped. As long as you are colleagues and peers in the office, people can tell you that you are out of line, you can’t say or do this, or that a suggestion will not work.
The minute you become the CEO and you say to them, “I will like to close this shop in Lagos and open another one in Ikeja because I heard Ikeja is the place to go,” they will say, “yes ma.” You must be careful, discerning and verify information by yourself.
You cannot afford to be behind a locked door in your office. You must go out there where the clients, businesses and the opportunities are and you must fact check everything because they will always give you what you want to hear.
How many times have you heard somebody tell you, I know the real story behind her success? There was a day, a gentleman I had never met before, whose name I had never known before put something on my LinkedIn page. He said “women like you who have had it the easy way.” So, I read it and smiled and said, “one of the reasons why I’m writing books today is so that nobody is going to tell my story for me.”
So I went to him and said “thank you very much gentleman for your comment. I know you have a right to your comment but I will like you to expantiate all you know about my easy way to the top so that those who are following this thread can read because 33 years I have been on this ladder and nothing has ever seemed easy to me.”
The gentleman said, “Madam, I didn’t realise you graduated before me, and it was not easy. I’m so sorry, I was just speaking generally.” Every time a woman accomplishes something great, there’s somebody out there who is saying we know the real story.
It’s because of this and that, her father is this, her husband is this, she’s the girlfriend of this. If you are not careful, you will stop advancing and you will not take advantage of the positive links you have in your network because you are afraid that somebody will say something.
If you are not careful, you will begin to doubt yourself. Nobody ever accomplished anything that never had confidence in themselves. Believe in yourself because nobody will.