The Pit of Success

Have you ever felt stressed and overwhelmed? Was what you needed to get done too hard, the challenges beating down on you over days and weeks like The Ring weighing down Frodo to the depths of despair in The Lord of the Rings?

Frodo went through the Pit of Success. He overcame impossible challenges, discovered new abilities and strength, and saved the world.

I did it too. I overcame challenges, developed new skills, and saved the world. After the credits from the SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 release Nick Fury even asked me to join S.H.I.E.L.D. I had to turn him down though, he said Emperor of eDiscovery did not have enough “pop” as a superhero name so I would need to change it. I obviously refused, that was just too far. Plus being in The Avengers I wouldn’t have time to build stuff and talk about it with you guys.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. The important thing is you can do the same thing. I can’t guarantee Nick Fury will try to recruit you, but the rest you can do.

You are in your groove, getting things done. It’s easy, you are great at your job. Then you start to get a little bored. Your boss sees your great work and that you are ready for more. “Fantastic”, she says, “please take on the new executive high priority project: empower and streamline the entire organization with disruptive innovation and synergy.” That sounds hard. You are excited, but you start working on it. Tensions are high. You are stressed. You feel like a failure. How will you ever deliver this project successfully?

This was me just a few months ago. And now I see it happening again, I am leaving that comfort zone I just got to and entering the Pit of Success.  


Things are hard because you are in the Pit of Success. It is painful, but this is the best opportunity to learn. Put new tools in your toolbox by trying out new ideas and listening to others. Get coaching from your manager and a mentor. You will internalize new ideas and strategies. Things will start to get better as you start to get on top of things because you have new skills. Then you come out of the pit, you feel successful and capable again.

Congratulations, you just went into the Pit of Success and came out with a new higher level of ability. You can take on bigger tasks. You have levelled up on your career path. It seemed impossible, but greatness is forged when times are hard.


1. Don’t be afraid to go into the pit. To move up, you must first move down. Just do it.

2. Your career success depends on going into the pit. That is where your greatest growth will occur.

3. Avoidance of new skills will prevent your acceleration out of the pit to a higher level of ability.


When you are in the pit it is hard, but it is also worth it. Recognize when you are in the pit, build those new skills, and seek out help so you can succeed.


Quentin Christensen, Program Manager, Emperor of eDiscovery, turned down joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers.

Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Have you ever felt like you were just in the zone? Things were hard, but they were going well. You were learning new things and getting it done. You were in the groove. This is a great place to be, ideally you spend most of your time here except occasionally

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