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How Wealth and Fame Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Success

Johnny Lops



How Wealth and Fame Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Success

I am sure the title of this article may have caught your attention and spurned multiple questions in your mind;

“What does Dr. Lops mean that having become a CEO, or having means to buy a million dollar home does not mean I am not successful?”

Week after week, the media will report a story of a celebrity or famous athlete having been caught in a scandal. The story may pertain to an affair, an aggressive act, a divorce, or a “baby mama” looking to get appropriate access to child support.

We read these stories because we remain interested in the public lives of these individuals. But what is interesting to me is that regardless of the controversy they are confronted with, we continue to admire them for the initial talent or skill that brought that person national attention.

But the question remains: is that person truly successful?


How Wealth and Fame Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Success

In my practice, I see time to time that the answer is yes but no. As we live in this era where social media controls what the world sees, for many we strive for an appearance of success with what we can show off. But frequently, away from the computer many struggle with other attributes that truly defines our success.

Let’s take a look at various examples describing my concerns for us as we look to achieve our own piece of success.


1) Never Used to Hearing the Word “No”

Can we truly get what we want at any time? Is that what we aspire to achieve through wealthy and notoriety? I hope not. Being okay with being told no is a tell tale sign of healthy emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is just as necessary for overall success as is cognitive intelligence and social intelligence.

No matter what our status, having capability of managing our frustration and having the tools for conflict resolution creates more opportunities to have healthy interactions with the people in our lives and with ourselves.

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In my practice I see this regularly with couples where one person in the partnership who is a rising star begins to utilize their life success and trusting their instincts to how they communicate at home. Because their decisions and instincts are correct in their work, they begin to believe at home, it is the same and they begin to negate and not be welcoming of their partner’s input.

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It creates tremendous animosity that spurs concerns for separation and misery for the less at work “successful” person.

These folks who struggle with low emotional intelligence will ultimately struggle with peers, colleagues and create an atmosphere where people are afraid to be honest with them, including their significant others. It creates a culture where you are not making yourself available to growing through experience and through mentor-ship. It can lead to isolation and sadness.

As we get older, learning to manage our emotions will improve one’s ability to work with their family and friends that will assure long-term healthy relationships outside of the superficiality that wealth and fame generate.

As you spend enormous amount of times focused on achieving success within your life’s ambitions, try to also become mindful of how well you handle your emotions when managing conflict. If aggression and agitation is the way you handle conflict, try to spend some time also becoming successful of not being derogatory and be welcoming of other people’s advice or input.

Mastering this skill will create a healthier milieu around you and folks will be more willing to want to take the journey with you.


2) Friends? Or Acquaintances with Benefits?

Open the gossip page to your local newspaper or online and we are inundated with celebrities being seen with other famous folks at parties or restaurants. It seems like they all have so many friends and have an abundance of folks on their contact list in their cell phone that if they needed some assistance with a personal issue, someone would be only one click away.

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Well yeah sure, if that person needed a reservation tonight at a restaurant or what was the name of your agent or accountant, they yeah people can assist them.

But what if the call needed was to ask a friend for advice with a personal issue. Crickets.

Due to the competitive nature striving for success, a lot of folks struggle with nurturing and developing healthy friendships and confidants that they can turn to when times are tough or they are struggling with a personal matter.

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I see this a lot with retired athletes. Many during their tenure professional, like collecting baseball cards, accumulate friends who want to be near them for what the athlete brings to the table: access to clubs, jets, and other “cool” experiences. Many athletes unfortunately realize upon retirements many of these fair weather friends are no longer answering their calls or are not interested in spending the weekend together.

The athlete enjoyed the company and the admiration when the limelight was on, but now that it’s dim, they are not used to the isolation. They never worked on tools necessary to cultivate true friendships and know how to manage being conscientious of other’s times and difficulties.

As you may dream of sailing with other CEO types, ask yourself this question, if you needed to phone a friend, would they answer to discuss how you truly are feeling or would they be quickly onto the next flashy person. If so, you may need to reassess the close people around you and work harder on cultivating true friendship that is not solely based on specifics like what vacation spot and car you share.


3) Have You Accumulated Enough Stuff?

Absolutely one of the highlights for achieving success and all that hard work is the finances to purchase more stuff. And you know what? You probably deserve it. However, stuff does not buy happiness.

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Purchasing fancy items activates the rewards system in our brains similar to using drugs, but that alone cannot become the only means to activate that system. Guess what? Just like using drugs, if spending is the only way one gets high, your brain will become desensitized and need more to get the same rush.

I have seen folks in my practice that go from the car, to the house, to the fancy trips and then they come back and after all those purchases, they still are not happy. Over the course of seeking success they believed the financial rewards will create happiness but we know from social psychology it is not true.

We should be enjoying the process of achieving success.

Wealth brings comfort but at the end of the day, the small things in life including our close relationships, our hobbies, our interests, and exploring ourselves create more sense of happiness than the continued weekly purchases.  As one of my favorite CEO’s I met in my life told me once,

“The happiness part of my day was when I came home and had a cold glass of chocolate milk.”

Simple, small, and obtainable. Folks who understand this are typically more successful in life.


Summing Up

The ability to find small things to make us happy is all around us. Just stop for a minute and take a look.

Yes, driving a Ferrari or owing an apartment on Park Avenue may provide the appearance of success but always remember there are more aspects to a successful human than their exterior selves.

What’s your definition of success? Leave a comment below.

Dr. Johnny Lops is a practicing psychiatrist in Brooklyn, NY. He is the former team psychiatrist for the Brooklyn Nets. His new book is Reinvent Yourself: Essential Tools from a Brooklyn Psychiatrist Who has Seen it All (Tailwinds Press, May 2015). An accomplished actor and film producer, Lops has starred in numerous stage productions, as well as commercials for Sprite, Budlight, and the NY Knicks. He is the medical advisor for the boxing website, and the medical advisor to the new independent film in production, Life Hack. He can be reached at