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What is success? What defines your success?
“If we’re not happy, then we’re not successful,” say The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.
Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, says, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
The Macmillan dictionary describes success – as a metaphor – this way, “Being successful is like being high up.” The Oxford dictionary defines success as “the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status.”
To some, success is a continual struggle. To some, success is a sense of peace. One of the most parodied definition of success takes its cue from a Thomas Edison quote about genius, “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” Edison had originally said, “Genius: one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Success Defined Perfect
Stop for a moment and answer this to yourself: What is success to you? How will you define success?
The best definition of success, as this remains forever green, is perhaps this:
Why does this definition of ‘what success is’ remain evergreen?
Because this definition leaves a healthy amount of space for our individual priorities (whatever those ‘mix’ of priorities be), as well as takes away the stress of finding a new meaning of success once our current priorities get shuffled (wherever that ‘sweet’ point of balance be).
It factors in a sense of balance that differs for each of us in our lives. To one, the ratio between Colleagues:Friends could find a sweet balance at 30:70, while to another it could even out at 50:50. This definition respects the individuals that we are, and the differences that we bear.
The complexities of life and our choices at each moment keep changing throughout the years, but this definition keeps its integrity quite intact.
Still, ask yourself for your own definition, “How will I define success?”
Two Demands of Success
If you think you understand what makes people successful, you may be dead wrong. The commonly held idea that success comes only to those who have natural talents – is a myth. Success is not about getting born with a special ability. If you are a child with a uniquely high IQ among your peers, does it predict a future of brilliant success? No!
Our natural abilities may help us get a head start in the game, but as their range keep changing throughout our years, they alone can not carry us to success.
Success, instead, demands two qualities:
- Constant Focus
- Endless Curiosity
The picture above is from the back cover of the final issue of Whole Earth Catalog, an innovative publication by Stewart Brand. It shows a deserted early morning old country road. And the famous phrase, which Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, later used in his inspirational Commencement Speech at Stanford University in 2005:
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Carol S. Dweck says a similar thing in different words in her Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:
- Focus on Learning (Instead of focusing on Achievement)
- Adopt a Growth Mindset (Instead of adopting a Fixed Mindset)
5 Steps To Success
According to Ronald E. Riggio, co-author of Transformational Leadership, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, there are 5 steps to achieve success at work, education and relationships:
- Have A Plan – Make a S.M.A.R.T. plan, meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound.
- Study ‘The Game’ – Learn the rules of Social Intelligence.
- Learn From Failures – Analyze what went wrong and fix them for future.
- Live Up The Small Wins – Reward yourself for each milestone.
- Keep At It – Persist. Persist. Persist.
While we go hunting for our successes , we may keep in perspective the wise words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “We do not learn so much by our successes as we learn by failures – our own and others”.
Success and failure – both are essential experiences in our existence. We realize the importance of both when we look back on our lives. You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards, as said Steve Jobs.
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