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It Can Be Lonely at the Top

Our podcast co-host, Bart Simpson, has always believed, "You're going nowhere if you're sitting still." Which is why it's not surprising that at age 16, he was already flying a plane solo!

This kind of drive exists in many of us, whether or not its related to business. We strive to get to the top to make a difference, to find success and to leave a legacy.

That all sounds well and good, but what happens when you get to the top. It may look like a cakewalk, but it can be lonely up there. The responsibilities can be enormous; the criticism can be overwhelming; and self-motivation can become short in supply.

Still, the reward is so great and the goals achievable if you're prepared for the speed bumps that may try to trip you up along the way.


We've learned that the definition of greatness means a lot of different things to different people; however, there are traits that tend to be consistent across the board. Bart and Matthew break it down:

  • Present in the Trenches: Making time to get your hands dirty with the line-level team members keeps you humble and demonstrates your commitment and appreciation for them.

  • Diversify Your Experiences: Of course making sure you're well-rounded in your field important, but it's also valuable to gain worldly experiences and draw from unrelated events or situations to better tackle the curve balls you'll be thrown.

  • Hard Work Goes a Long Way: It's one thing to show up to work. It's another thing to show up with dedication in your every move. Making the most of your minutes will maximize your overall success so that there's always time for family and friends.

  • Keep Winning Attitude: No one likes a kill-joy. By staying forever positive (and grateful) even in challenging times, morale will stay high and navigating the trials won't be so daunting or damaging.

  • Stay Humble and Hungry: It's great to go after the cheddar, but it's even more important to stay humble in the process. Recognize the people who help you get there and remain grateful throughout the journey.

  • Be Kind: It is true that you can attract more bees with honey. Kindness, gratitude and patience are all qualities that will promote partnerships and more rewarding advancement as you pursue your own vision of greatness.

  • Seek or Build a Tribe: The lone wolf mentality is cut-throat. And it can be done. However, the risks are great and the path that you create may not be one of integrity. Plus, who can you share your success with when you reach the top? It's your tribe that will always feed you with the determination, energy and wisdom to realize your goals.

So you've reached the peak. You've gotten all you've wanted, yet there are a variety of unexpected demands and circumstances that not everyone expects (or wants to discuss).

  • Making Decisions is Hard: When you have the future of your whole team—or even company!—resting on your decision, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. But remember, this is what you sought. Although the isolation of your decision-making can be overwhelming, the ability to make positive moves for your tribe and your venture is priceless. Seek guidance where you can. Remain confident and rational. Make change happen.

  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: A popular Moosa Rahat quote is one that's often recited amongst the Flywheel team: "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future." It's your tribe, your friends, your family, your team that defines the tone of all that you do and seek to achieve. That positivity is a powerful force for finding success.

  • You've Got to Take Care of #1: There will be times when no one will be there to pat you on the back. You'll have to find that fulfillment from within, and the only way that you can continually maintain that source of motivation is to take care of yourself. Your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health is vital to maintaining your place in the marathon of your plans.

  • You Might Become Intimidating: As kind, soft-spoken and diplomatic as you may be, you may end up gaining a reputation for being intimidating. We don't mean like a Chuck Norris or Liam Neeson. When you rise to the top, people notice, and they recognize the dominant, dynamic traits that you possess. You've kind of become a big deal and that can be overwhelming for some people. Don't worry. It's a good thing. It just fosters a high level of respect and loyalty that you should be aware of as you nurture your team.

  • Break Down Barriers: You've gained some status. Why not do something with that authority? Bust down stereotypes and misnomers as a leader. Keep it real with your team. Even the playing field so the hierarchy doesn't seem so vast, equality is a priority and diversity is embraced.

  • You'll Never Be Fully Prepared: Whether you rise quickly or spend your whole life pursuing a certain achievement, you're never going to be ready for what's ahead. The best you can do is seek life and professional experience to become a well-rounded person with the qualities that will prepare you for the best...and the worst.

  • Mistakes will Happen: You are human. No matter how much money you control or how many people are counting on you, something is bound to go wrong. That's just Murphy's Law. If you can own that likelihood, you will be much kinder to yourself when it happens and will bounce back much more quickly for the team that's counting on you. Be a problem-solver.

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