An Australian physician Barry Marshall and a colleague discovered that peptic ulcers were due to a bacteria and not stress as previously thought. In 1984 Marshall did the ultimate test by injecting himself with a bacteria, developing the symptoms of the disease and then successfully treated himself with antibiotics.
Marshall and his fellow pathologist spend many years trying to convince the medical establishment of the validity of the work. In 1994 the World Health Organisation accepted that the bacteria (H. Pylori) is a causative factor in stomach cancer. The work of Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren received the Nobel Prize for physiology in 2005.
This Australian physician was certain that he knew the cause of a disease and could come up with a solution. But no one in the medical establishment would believe him. He couldn’t do the experiment on other human beings so he chose to do it himself.
“I thought I would just be having no symptoms for a few years, after which I would have an ulcer. … I drank the bacteria and at first I was okay. But instead of being perfectly well and having a silent infection, after about five days I started having vomiting attacks. Typically at dawn I would wake up, run to the toilet and vomit,” he said in an interview for the Interviews with Australian Scientists series.
The secret of the success of this medical scientist was to persevere and even in the face of ridicule and rejection carry his convictions through even if it meant that he was risking his own life. Because of what he did thousands upon thousands of people have benefited.
I knew a sales person who was brilliant at selling and did very well for himself. But he got to a point in his life where he could not transition from a successful selling career to a new chapter in his life such as training, consulting or running his own small business. The secret of his success was brilliant sales skills but he did not plan for a time when things would change.
Many of us are sometimes like this. We think the ride we’ve had on a particular business or trend or product is going to go on forever. Everything has a life cycle. Yes, you may say that the soft drink company that sells a brown sugary liquid has been around for more than 100 years but just think of the billions that have been pumped into that soda to keep the product going despite a trend worldwide towards healthy eating and living. Even this company is branching out into bottled water and health drinks.
A dark side, an alter ego, a Yin and Yang resides in the shadows of every success. One legendary business person, who has never got enough praise, said alcohol wasn’t the great destroyer but ego was. It’s a fatal flaw that can lead you into business or career suicide. A person has heavy personality clashes with business partners and is slowly eased out of his role. A tree bends with the wind. A human being without flexibility snaps.
Whatever your secret behind your business success it’s worthwhile having a look at the flipside where character flaws wait to trip you up. The only real antidote to this possible disease is to fool yourself with a humble attitude and mindset that takes nothing for granted.