The Cost of Extraordinary Success

By | July 23, 2022

[July 23, 2022]  Who are you trying to be?  This question is relevant if you want a truthful answer to this question of how to become radically successful.  To illustrate, if you desire to be exceptionally successful in your career and focus on it, you can get a long way in it and advance to the top of your profession.

However, choosing this strategy is preferred by a minority of men.  But that’s all they do.  They work 70, 80, or 100 plus hours per week.  They go flat out on their career and are steaking everything on the probability of exceptional status in a narrow domain of their career.  It is no secret that this strategy is hard on them.  They don’t have a life.  It’s difficult to have a family or close friends.  They don’t know how to take leisure time.  These are very one-dimensional men.

And that may be the price for wild success in their career.  If you are going to do this and be at the top of your game, then you are working at least 70 hours per week and likely more, and you are on-call all the time, and they take on great responsibilities.  They are intelligent, dedicated, but unidimensional.  That is how you get to beat all the other people who are doing that.  It’s the only way.

The problem for these men is they don’t get a life.  They sacrifice a lot; they pay a considerable cost for extraordinary success.

If you are interested in a healthy life, that is not what you do.  You spread yourself out more.  You have a family, some things you do outside of work that are meaningful to you and valuable, and you have a network of friends.  Then, if one of these collapses, your life is not destroyed.  Now, there is a price for that as well.  The more you strive to optimize that balance, the less likely you will be fantastically successful at any single one.

Dr. Jordan Peterson says, quoting Carl Jung, that men go after perfection and women go after wholeness.  Perfection would be to stake it all on one thing and look for radical success and being great.  The wholeness idea is you want many things in your life to be good, but not necessarily any one of them great.  There is far more richness in life when many things operate at a good level, but you’re not operating any one of them at the great level.

Maybe you want to be a great scientist or high-ranking military officer.  Okay, do you really want this?  If the answer is yes, that means that is what you do, period.  You’re competing with other smart and hardworking people, and if you want to be at the top, you have to be smarter and work harder than any of them.  And working hard means working long hours.

If I’m smart and hardworking and can crank out for 70 hours per week, and you (as my competitor) only do it for 40 hours a week, then in two years, I’m so far ahead of you; you will never catch up to me.  You get to choose your poison.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “The Cost of Extraordinary Success

  1. Pumpkin Spice

    Interesting. Yes, indeed, for those who are extremely successful, they will tell you there is a cost and that cost is sometimes not worth it, if the cost involves their family.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    Gen. Satterfield says “If you are interested in a healthy life, that is not what you do. ” Yep, exactly.

    1. Greg Heyman

      That is the ‘secret’ to fabulous success. No wonder we say you must a passion for it. Have heart in the game, is just a minimum.

      1. Northeast

        Yet the whackos who think business success comes from sitting around smoking cigars, throwing out random crushing orders to his underlings, eating until his is fat, and having anything he wants at a whim. Those are those who think success comes purely from luck and power and yet nothing from hard work, intelligence, conscientiousness, and focus. Leadership is at the core of it all.

  3. Qassim

    Hi guys, I’ve been away for a while and finally got back in the US to again have access to this great site. It is good to be able to freely discuss leadership concerns and issues (not like I can elsewhere, that will remain unnamed for now). Enjoy your freedoms now because Joe Biden and company are taking them away at an alarming rate.

  4. Fred Weber

    Ack! Gen. Satterfield is telling us about reality (from experience). It’s not easy being at the top of your game. Because when you get there, you are still working your a$$ off.

      1. Ursala J. Simpson

        Yet what is being talked about here in Gen. Satterfield’s leadership forum will either not be read (most likely) or will be ignored. Too many of the young generation are NOT interested in someone giving them a bit of good advice or wisdom, they just want a handout.

  5. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Excellent article, Gen. Satterfield and explains, in part, why I love your leadership website. Oh, I bought your book, Our Longest Year in Iraq and I’m enjoying reading it. ✔

  6. Rusty D

    Extraordinary success means great sacrifice. Yet, the whinny liberals think it’s cost free.

      1. Mikka Solarno

        Yep, you get to pay for it with your life… basically you will have no life. No family. No friends. You just work. But you will make more money and have prestige. But you work work work. That is a product of working long hours, being smart and focused, and driven. It is not what some stupid think of as just a privilege.

      2. Bernie

        Yo mean it’s not given to them because they are white? Naw.

        1. Dead Pool Guy

          This trips up the liberals who see the world thru an inaccurate marxist view. 👍


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