Retaining Some ‘Healthy Paranoia’ Can Lead to Success
I recently read an article about Alexa von Tobel, the founder of online financial advisory LearnVest, which was shuttered in 2018, three years after it was purchased by Northwestern Mutual. In the article, von Tobel attributes her career success to retaining a healthy paranoia.
“Making sure you retain some ‘healthy paranoia’ doesn’t mean you have to live in constant fear of failure or be afraid of celebrating wins to be successful,” she said. “Instead, the trick is to work hard and avoid the sort of overconfidence that can lead to making major mistakes.”
Overconfidence is more prevalent among entrepreneurs than the average person, research shows. This isn’t surprising, considering the long odds any new business faces to succeed in the long term. That same overconfidence can cause companies to fail, especially from big, risky bets that founders and CEOs can make, which can go wildly wrong.
No matter how successful your business is, you can be headed for trouble when you start to feel comfortable. In my past, success was never taken for granted, and we always kept in mind that we earned our business daily. It was necessary to strive to make small daily improvements to keep growing.
The same can be said about sales. Salespeople need to stay positive, but overconfidence can turn into a disaster. I never felt confident about a big sale until the order was placed, shipped and installed.
Bad things can happen when you relax too soon and take your eye off the sale. Keeping a “healthy paranoia” as part of your sales cycle will add to your success.