One of the most damaging aspects of failure is not achieving success and social recognition when the person hoped and expected to do so. The dissatisfaction the person experiences intensified by the realization that others with whom he has competed many have achieved success and social recognition earlier than he.
Many people have unrealistic aspirations about when they will reach goals which they are perfectly capable of reaching—but at somewhat later time. The athlete who hopes to win an Olympics gold medal when he is 16 might more realistically set his goal for the age of 19. So long as the person realizes that reaching the goal he has set will take time and effort and that social recognition of his achievement is usually later than the achievement itself, he will not think of himself as a failure. Many people however are unrealistic about the time, effort and planning needed to win success and recognition and that is why even successful achievement coming later than the person hoped can be damaging to the self concept.
By contrast, one of the greatest sources of satisfaction is achieving success and social recognition earlier than anticipated and earlier than one’s competitors. Under such conditions the effect on the self-concept is favorable. It may be so favorable as to lead to delusions of grandeur and a superiority complex--- a situation that will, in time, counteract favorable social judgments, prove damaging to the self- concept and put the person in a position where he will try to justify his delusions.