Wanting Our Successors to Fail is Normal… Right?

Abundance Organizational leadership Teamwork


Key Point: Openly or secretly wishing for our successors to fail may be “normal,” but it is also a huge waste. Perhaps even more importantly, I believe it really diminishes who we are and what we stand for. Mike Greenberg, ESPN sportscaster and co-host of Mike & Mike in the Morning, made me cringe the other day when he waxed on about how he would hope for Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, to dramatically fail if he were Alex Smith, the player Kaepernick replaced. In fact Greenberg went on to say that he hoped his team would lose by 50 points in the Super Bowl if he were Smith. (BTW… I’m writing this BEFORE the Super Bowl has been played).

Think about this for a moment. What meaningful value does Smith receive if his successor fails? Other than a fleeting bit of cheap personal satisfaction, how is Smith better for it? How does all Smith worked for to build a successful team get helped if his successor fails? What about his teammates that he cared for up to the time he was demoted? Does it help Smith if they get hurt in the process of his successor failing too? (BTW, by all public accounts Smith has completely taken the abundant road on this matter, despite Greenberg’s musings).

I see successor bashing in the workplace far too often. But let’s face it; we are all going to be replaced. Sometimes it will happen just like we hope. Often, it happens in less than acceptable ways. But why should we want our successors to fail? What a waste of thinking, energy and action. Why not focus on what we’ve learned, created and achieved up to the departure point. What if we put all of our focus on what we are going to do on a going-forward basis? This is the difference between abundance and scarcity.

Although I mostly write about the workplace, I have seen couples more intent on wishing for the destruction of their estranged partners than concentrating on replenishing their lives with others. How unfortunate and inefficient. In fact, without sounding too judgmental, it is just wrong and frankly stupid. To say it’s “just human” is a cop out and a lazy “end run” around what and how we can build from the past. (Please remember that I did NOT say being replaced was fair, or felt good… It usually doesn’t, but that is not the point).

Character Move:

  1. Recognize that it is a process of life to get replaced. Accept the situation as soon as possible and build from there.
  2. Put your energy into YOU… Not in diminishing your successor or others.
  3. Remember that we do not know what happens next. The excitement is in focusing on the next leg of your journey. You never know when being replaced was the best thing that happened to you. One way or another, you will be the one who defines the meaning and value of your past.
  4. Wish your successor well. The high road view is so much better and the air is much cleaner.

Wishing successors the best in The Triangle,


P.S. remember that you can download The Character Triangle Companion: A 30-Day Kickstart to an Even Better YOU! for FREE until Thursday, Feb. 6!