Sudden success or winnings can be very dangerous. Neurologically, chemicals are released in the brain that give a powerful jolt of arousal and energy, leading to the desire to repeat this experience. It can be the start of any kind of addiction and manic behavior. Also, when gains come quickly we tend to lose sight of the basic wisdom that true success, to really last, must come through hard work. We do not take into account the role that luck plays in such sudden gains. We try again and again to recapture that high from winning so much money or attention. We acquire feelings of grandiosity. We become especially resistant to anyone who tries to warn us—they don’t understand, we tell ourselves. Because this cannot be sustained, we experience an inevitable fall, which is all the more painful, leading to the depression part of the cycle. Although gamblers are the most prone to this, it equally applies to businesspeople during bubbles and to people who gain sudden attention from the public.
Unexpected losses or a string of losses equally create irrational reactions. We imagine we are cursed with bad luck and that this will go on indefinitely. We become fearful and hesitant, which will often lead to more mistakes or failures. In sports, this can induce what is known as choking, as previous losses and misses weigh on the mind and tighten it up.
The solution here is simple: whenever you experience unusual gains or losses, that is precisely the time to step back and counterbalance them with some necessary pessimism or optimism. Be extra wary of sudden success and attention—they are not built on anything that lasts and they have an addictive pull. And the fall is always painful.