Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success


The key to greatness

Q: A new collection of Charles Schulz's writings shows that the creator of "Peanuts" was always insecure, even as he drew and wrote the world's most beloved comic strip. How much does success color one's self-image? Does a job well done necessarily bring satisfaction?

What I'm getting ready to say might not be the feel-good realization of the summer!

I spent 10 years researching successful people and found that when phenomenally talented people speak anonymously and honestly, the most common recurring theme is low self-esteem. The truth is that if you have massively high self-esteem, you have a tendency to lack ambition. That's why all those people you know who don't need your approval do in fact need to borrow your money!

Most people who believe they are okay regardless of their actions or circumstances don't need to achieve much. It's why the average person makes a modest income and lives a so-called normal life. But the people who have something to prove because they feel a bit less than okay usually need to overcompensate. And they usually don't need to live in their parents' houses at age 29.

During our interviews with more than 5,000 successful people, we heard many statements like "I have a hard time enjoying life if I don't finish first, drive an expensive car or live in a house that cost 'Oprah-money.'" People who have something to prove are the most competitive. Drive often is fueled by compulsive behavior; it's why the most talented people on earth drink too much, have out-of-control sexual behavior and often end up "graveyard dead" before their time from all those excesses.

But most people don't admit this because another symptom of compulsive behavior is lying! People like Thomas Edison, who admitted way back when that low self-esteem fueled his success (He failed an exam to be a railroad engineer and said he spent his life proving his worth), and now Schulz, should be commended for their honesty. Frankly, the more appropriate question might be "How much does self-image color one's success?"

During our research we had to get very personal and build a lot of trust to get real answers. People like to say they believed in themselves because it's embarrassing to make statements like "I see a glass as half empty, which consistently motivates me to fill up the glass." You can't really pump people up, get on CNN or sell breakfast cereal with that sound bite.

Our research showed that the most successful people were negative thinkers who were not blindsided by obstacles they never saw coming. Their lack of faith that everything was going to be okay pushed them into action.

Let's be real: A lack of satisfaction creates the continual improvements that move our civilization forward. And that creates the freedom and great life that allows the average person to feel contented. So if it were not for the slightly miserable overachievers, there would be a lot less joy in the world! Satisfaction may be the goal of the common man, but it is the enemy of greatness.

By Garrison Wynn  |  April 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success and happiness , satisfaction Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I'm amaze to understand this topic like this. I want to share it with the world! but then if you want to send it to a successful person, you are telling her or him that they have low self-esteem and I'm not sure that those type of people are ready to understand that and on the other hand to the happy ones, its also awkward to say, there you go! you are very happy but you can accomplish anything great in life! ha so its kind of complicated. Love it! Thank you Garrison Wynn!!!

Posted by: rmolavarrieta | May 4, 2010 2:43 AM
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On the other pole are the persons who give up, wither away, and end up achieving nothing in life. I wonder whether Mr. Wynn will research them and, more to the point, report his findings.

Posted by: mnogojazyk | May 3, 2010 9:06 PM
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This is exactly correct. Unfortunately, people who have low self-esteem are far more likely to contribute to society than people with high self-esteem. This is why the entire "self-esteem" movement is wrong-headed. The idea that "I'm good enough already" is pernicious. People who don't feel that they have anything to prove may be happier, but they will never realize their full potential as they simply aren't motivated to push themselves.

People with self-esteem issues may lead tortured internal lives, but they vastly improve the societies in which they live. So, parents, remember to criticize your children today! ;)

Posted by: anon99 | May 3, 2010 1:44 PM
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This is a great article, an honest type of which I hope to see more often in the Post.

I would just like to add that low self-esteem, while powerful, is not the only motivator for success, or rather, the DRIVE.

Posted by: Sentan | May 3, 2010 12:59 PM
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Wow, that sounds like a real answer to a real question and I don't hear much of that in the media. I watch a lot of biographies and history and there is definitely some truth to this. It's a hopeful thing though, I know that my own shortcomings tend to drive me to excel beyond my peers(not that I always do).

Posted by: Rabbitsmoker | April 29, 2010 4:56 PM
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