The Dangerous Ladder To Success

Long ago a Chinese man began his career making bell-stands for the huge bronze bells that hang in Buddhist temples. This particular man became prized and celebrated for making the best, most elaborate and enduring bell-stands in the entire region. No other person could make the bell-stands which such strength and beauty. His reputation grew vast and his skill was in high demand. One day the celebrated woodcarver was asked, “Please tell us the secret of your success!” He replied, “Long before I start making and carving the bell-stand, I go into the forest to do the work before the work. I look at all of the hundreds of trees to find the ideal tree—already formed by God to become a bell-stand. I look for the bows of the tree to be massive, strong and already shaped. It takes a long time to find the right tree. But without doing the work before the work, I could not do what I have accomplished.”NEVER?The ground at the foot of the ladder of success is littered with the names and faces and stories of leaders who self-destructed on the way up. Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you know this. You know their names and faces. You’ve seen them interviewed by nightly news anchors, you’ve read the scandalous articles online, and you’ve possibly thought but that could never happen to me.According to the Harvard Business Review, 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris and ego. In other words, they thought but that could never happen to me.I’m here to tell you that it can happen to you. And if by some stretch of the imagination you believe that you’re immune to a crash-and-burn because of your faith in God, then you’re living with the exact kind of naivete that can ruin your reputation, your family, your health, and your legacy. Your name can be added to that ever-growing pile at the bottom of the ladder of success. In my work with hundreds of leaders from across the world, I find that far too many have eagerly entered the workplace, marketplace, or mission field with the goal of establishing themselves and striving toward a successful future. But unfortunately they missed or overlooked something crucial along the way. They end up in my office soaked in tears and shame because they were fired for ethical violations, they didn’t know how to work on a team, and some even succumbed to the much darker sides of money, sex and power. At one time they thought but that could never happen to me. But it did.The obvious question here is why? I’ll offer my take. But I warn you, the answer is not pretty. From my latest book Inside Job: Doing The Work Within The Work (Due for release June, 2015 by InterVarsity Press)