Winning isn't easy. It comes from that witch's brew of skill, preparation, strategy and luck that's so elusive to 90 percent of the business world.
That's why it feels so good. So good that it makes us want to celebrate, to dance, to show off a bit.
There's nothing wrong with that.
These days, we put participation over achievement. We worry about celebrating success for fear of somehow offending those who didn't achieve it. We can't even applaud a winning team for fear of making the losing team feel bad for themselves.
The very thought of success is under seige. It's dirty, like a dog-eared copy of Fear of Flying, kept safe under your pillow.
Worse than dirty, success is considered downright uncivilized. Real winners, we're told, don't celebrate. They soldier on to the next victory, out of respect for the vanquished. Real winners don't show off.
The most visible sign of this is in sports. In the NFL, for instance, there's a strict policy against celebrating in the end zone swhen you score. You can't have a group. You can't go to the ground. You can't use a prop. That last one prompted Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey to get a fine this week for pretending to nap after his touchdown. Balls, after all, aren't pillows.
When you win -- whether you score a touchdown, sell your company, land a big client or get married to the love of your life -- you should celebrate like there's no tomorrow.
Clap. Cheer. Pop the bubbly. Laugh, scream, shout.
And, if the rhythm takes you, dance. Shuffle. Shimmy. Do the mashed potato or the twist. Twerk. (Well, maybe not twerk.)
But, by all means, celebrate however you choose. Dance that successful ass of yours right off.
We are told that such celebrations are somehow untoward, that they are a sign that we lack humility, or sportsmanship, or a sensitivity to others less fortunate. Nothing can be further from the truth. Celebrating is not taunting. When we steal a client from our competitors, that is a milestone, a moment to mark by noting the accomplishment with some kind of joy. It is right and just to celebrate. It's offensive to believe that joy for one means sorrow for others, and that a celebration automatically means revelling in someone else's failure.
Celebration is important, and, despite those who want to tamp it, it is self-limiting. After all, one success doesn't make a career. With one win, you could be good, but you're more likely to be lucky. Success, like a scientific theory, demands repetition and replication.
Success also has to be the result of hard work. Don't clap for the triple you just hit if you were born on third base. Work for it. Fight for it. Earn it.
And never rest on your laurels. Like its close cousin fame, success has a song, a sting, and, ah, too, a wing, as Emily Dickinson wrote. It doesn't last. When you win, you need to win again. And again. And again.
Here, as in so many things, life is the best regulator for your behavior. The ancients talked of the Moirai -- we call them the Fates -- who spun the threads of our destiny, punishing us for our hubris, keeping us mortal under the jealous eyes of the gods. Of course, there are no Greek gods. If there were, one of them would have prevented the Greek debt crisis (or at least made gyros easier to eat). No, that mythology was born from the hopes of the vanquished, from those who wanted to punish the conquerors, the kings, the rich. In short, the winners.
Truth is, life's cruelty is less celestial design than randomness. Life is short. We are only immortal for a limited time. The first hundred years our bodies moulder in the earth is but the beginning. In that short life, we face struggles. Illness. Divorce. Hardship. Loss. Successes are, sadly, few. In light of that, we should rejoice when they come along, make a joyful noise, and feel that wonderful, electric, dazzling, and, yes, fleeting sense of accomplishment. Then -- and only then -- should we move on to a achieve even greater success.
Just dance. Take the penalty. Pay the fine. But just dance.