Sixty-four years ago, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay literally went where no other human had been when they became the first people to reach the peak of Mount Everest. Can you imagine what they must have felt? Pride, accomplishment, intense fulfillment. But it was short-lived. They were able to withstand the air at that altitude for only 15 minutes before beginning their descent.
Think about the most important achievement in your life. Remember that feeling when you finally reached the summit of your own particularly difficult mountain? You feel as if you can conquer anything. But you can’t forget about all of the difficult times on the way to the top—the days when you just wanted to give up and try something easier. I’m sure Hillary and Norgay had days like that.
As the popular phrase goes, “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. In the end it’s the courage to continue that counts.” Having the courage to continue after failure is important, but what’s even more important is continuing after success. That’s when it gets easy to sit back and look at all you have accomplished and forget how much more there is left to do. Success is a journey, not a destination.
“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. In the end it’s the courage to continue that counts.”
You’re never as good as you think you are when life is going great. The flipside is also true. Success takes a team. You never could have climbed that mountain without the people around you helping you along the way. So don’t let ego take the wheel after achievement. Acknowledge and thank your team for everything they do. Take a moment to collectively celebrate your success, and then put your head down and start working toward the next goal.
Related: Today, Become a Daily Goal Setter
Hillary and Norgay went on to lead adventurous lives, scaling other mountains and heading expedition teams. They never slowed down.
The people I admire most—the ones I consider to be truly successful—are those who are happy, living vibrant lives and looking forward to the future. They have healthy relationships and strive to balance motivation and drive with humility. They’re boldly humble. It’s a contradiction, just like most things in life. Walk with your head high and your heart humble and you’ll find the greatest sense of inner peace and wholeness.
Humility isn’t something you’re born with. Certain things happen in our lives that boost our ego or tear it down. Learn to accept both in stride. You do that by not allowing your emotions to control your direction. Never let the lows drive you too low or the highs lift you too high. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / treat those two impostors just the same / Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
Related: 6 Attributes of Healthy Humility
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.