Behavioral Change - General

Does Success Change People For the Worse?

shutterstock_107222486-1024x9471Success: you have dreamt it so many times. Now that it’s here, you feel like a brand new person. But is this “new” person better or worse? Through success, a person may exhibit a down-to-earth personality. Or they might become egotistic. When someone starts behaving strangely after acquiring wealth, fame, or opportunities, did success change them? Or was the douche there all along?

In my quest to decipher whether success can bring out the worst in people, I stumbled upon this quote by director, screenwriter, actor, and producer Kevin Smith:

“All these people who say success changes people; well, no, it just magnifies what’s there.

So based on that statement (which I agree with), if someone displays greed, elitism, or decadent behavior after gaining success, the tendency to act that way has always been there. Success simply gave the tendencies a vessel for projection. This concept is similar to the age-old “Is money the root of all evil?”

Money itself does not change anyone. Upon acquiring a large sum of money, an astute businessperson’s first thought may be to invest in a profitable business. But a more impulsive person’s first thought might be to go on a shopping spree, with no thought of tomorrow. The former is likely to have a comfortable life financially while the latter is likely to end up in debt. These outcomes are not driven by money, but by what the spender does with it.

So if a nouveau-riche friend suddenly deems you unworthy of their attention, and you’ve done nothing to provoke this behavior, success didn’t change them. Or if a wealthy person is willing to betray those closest to them just to obtain even more money, success didn’t change them. It’s simply demonstrating who they’ve always been by expanding their inclinations. You probably never saw those tendencies because the opportunity wasn’t there for them to be revealed.

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