How the Mighty Fall: A Corporate Lesson for Individuals

February 25, 2014

Reblogged from Sigalle Barness: Celebrating Life, Law, Travel & Food.


In the article How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins illuminates the falling aspect of life’s roller coaster ride. Specifically, he points out that the “Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Chou Dynasty, the Hittite Empire—all fell. Athens fell. Rome fell. Even Britain, which stood a century before as a global superpower, saw its position erode.” And although Collins’ article was meant as “A Primer on the Warning Signs” for companies in decline, I found the article to be extremely illuminating for anyone dealing with some adversity in their life.

The one part I want to discuss in particular is Collins’ ‘”Hubris Born of Success stage.  His discussion was actually quite reminiscent of Socrates’ interpretation of the phrase “Know Thyself” and, in essence, provides a preventive measure (or at least an easing mechanism) for inevitable declines in life.

Collins discusses the first stage of a successful companies’ fall as the failure to understand what brought about initial success in the first place.  Collins states that when “people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement … they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place.”

So what does this mean in real life? Simply put: curb your enthusiasm and belief that you succeeded just because. Instead, strive to understand why you succeeded at the highest points of your coaster ride.  Oh – and don’t forget to factor in luck because “those who fail to acknowledge the role luck may have played … overestimate their own merit and capabilities…”.

Truly, though, at its very core, the message is self-awareness. It means recognizing the height of happiness as a product of specific actions and decisions made (along with just the right amount of chance mixed in).  More importantly, it means comprehending why those specific factors work and under what conditions they would (or would not) work again.

Easier said than done? Absolutely.

Nevertheless, it’s proven to be an interesting lesson on staying in touch with reality at the highest points in life while staying proactive in the lower parts.


Author Bio

Written by Sigalle Barness

Sigalle Barness is the Vice President of Content and a member of’s Executive Team. Sigalle provides business strategy and leadership to the company and directly manages Lawline’s accreditation, programming and production operations. Sigalle also analyzes market trends and applies insights to develop and execute written and video content including online educational programming, email marketing, social media campaigns, press releases, blog articles and large scale live events. Sigalle graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in English. She received her J.D. in 2010 from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, NY. Sigalle is admitted to practice in both New York and New Jersey. She is also an active member of the Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA), and is the former Chair of ACLEA’s Programming Special Interest Group (2013 – 2015) and National Provider Special Interest Group (2015 - 2017). Before joining Lawline in March 2012, Sigalle litigated civil claims in areas such as landlord tenant, breach of contract and tax lien and mortgage foreclosures actions. She also handled transactional matters such as drafting residential and commercial leases, demand letters, and client conflict waivers. Sigalle is an avid lover of music, video games, blogging, asking questions and all things food. She is also fluent in Hebrew and enjoys writing fiction, traveling and scuba diving.


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