Why A Good Waxing Saves Careers

flight-of-icarusThere’s a real message in hot wax to help smooth successful and happy careers. It all starts with self-examination. Take a look, and thrive. Here’s how.

In Greek mythology, Daedalus advised his son Icarus to be bold enough to fly but not to fly so high that the sun’s heat would melt the wax of the wings he had fashioned for him.

Thrilled by his initial aerobatic successes, Icarus ignored his father’s advice and paid the ultimate price – a sobering demonstration of unjustified self confidence and the abuse of power.

He blew his moment in the sun, and fell victim to this wonderful adage:

“…. Today a peacock, tomorrow a feather duster.”

His mistake? It’s a six letter word. Does it describe you? Is this trait flirting with you, just a little?

It’s just about the most dangerous trait in business – and its name? Hubris.

Hubris is defined as “extreme pride or arrogance, often indicating a loss of contact with reality and an over-estimation of one’s own competence, capabilities and accomplishments, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.”

I was in London a few weeks ago and witnessed a man see his life’s work – his moment of triumph – disintegrate into total failure and humiliation.

After a lifetime of toil and pressure, Sam Allardyce was given the job of Manager of the England football team. Sixty or so days later he was fired in disgrace, and all in front of the world’s media.

Big Sam thought his was the man, and his hubris led him to great indiscretion in a secretly recorded interview staged by a British newspaper. Sam mouthed off and big-noted. Sam got fired.

Hubris. I’ve seen it in big CEOs, in politicians, amongst colleagues, and competitors. Every now and then, I see myself flirting with it. STOP! Look hard in that mirror, often, and when you see a touch of hubris winking back at you, then take action. Get it under control. Fast.

Of course we need to build self-esteem and confidence by rationally and relevantly acknowledging our achievements- what we do well, what we bring, contribute and help grow. But whenever a sense of self-satisfaction starts creeping in, then it’s time to stop and think.

Remember these seven points – please:

1. It takes very little for our position of strength, or what we have today, to be eroded or taken away.
2. Take nothing for granted.
3. Keep absolutely focused on what you can contribute next.
4. We are only as good as our NEXT result.
5. Remain absolutely paranoid, always.
6. Never rest on your laurels.
7. Keep relentlessly dissatisfied with your own performance and contribution.

Absolutely, pat yourself on the back when you kick a goal- reinforce that you are valuable, skilled and make a valuable contribution.

Then move on- channel all your energies on making your next effort even better.

Today a peacock, tomorrow a feather duster. Or as David Ogilvy put it:

“Don’t be so easily happy with yourself.”

Keep it with you, always.


Visit Daedalus Trust There is a growing body of opinion that the exercise of power can distort thinking and create personality changes in leaders that affect their decision making. The Daedalus Trust’s mission is to raise awareness of such changes and understand them better. It was established by Sir David Owen.

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5 Responses to Why A Good Waxing Saves Careers

  1. KIMMIE LAM December 7, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    I’m still building my self-esteem. Not a peacock yet, still the Icarus learning to fly…again

    Thank you for the 7 tips, Chris!

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Good to hear, Kimmie. Keep at it!! Chris

  2. Tony Spencer-Smith December 7, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    An important and poetically written piece, Chris. Yes, power has long been known to corrupt. When it comes to the hubris of CEOs, I think part of the problem is the absurd sums they are paid, out of all proportion to their worth. And when it comes to politicians, we have seen the full force of hubris in Donald Trump, a dangerous idiot to anyone with half a brain, but to himself the saviour of American greatness. Best wishes, Tony

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks Tony….agree entirely! Chris

  3. Craig Badings December 7, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes Chris: “There is never a truer test of a persons character than to give them power.”

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