EMAIL #86 - 30TH, AUGUST, 2020 - THE MEANING OF SUCCESS
I have briefly written about success in several previous Weekly Emails (# 34 + 36 successful teamwork, # 40 finding your passion, # 59 how doing productive work leads to long term fulfillment, #73 + 75 the art of happiness). However, I feel I have not yet addressed what success really means and what role it plays throughout your life?
"Success" is like "happiness", it's a word we all frequently use, but it is difficult to accurately define and its meaning differs from person to person. The meaning of success also changes as we go through life. How you view success at high school or university is likely to be very different to how you view success in your 30's or 40's. Most people actually inherit their definition of success from their parents and the community they grew up in as well as the way that success is portrayed in their culture. Different nationalities and different countries have very different definitions of success. So there is no universal definition of success and we are left with the exercise of figuring out what success really means to each of us individually?
"Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgement repeated every day." Jim Rohn
When defining your own success, it is natural to compare yourself with others (this is what has made Instagram so dam successful- in a business sense!). "As humans we are unfortunately wired for comparison with others", it's an innate part of our human nature. However, this is where we all end up falling into a trap, because this comparison with others is ultimately setting you up for failure. You will never win if you use what is portrayed in social media or popular culture as your measure of success. Luckily, it is easy to define what success is not. Success is not about buying lots of stuff or living in a bigger house. In fact many highly successful people have very little stuff or money.
"Would you rather be rich and work in a job you hate, or have an average level of wealth and work in a job you love?" Unknown
The key to defining success for yourself is that only you get to choose how you will measure success. What "yardstick" you use to measure your own success will largely depend on your personal values and what is most important to you in that specific stage of life. How you choose to define, and measure success can largely determine how happy and fulfilled you feel at different stages of life. However, if your measure of success becomes inconsistent with your values you can easily end up in a very unhappy place. This is often what happens to people who suffer a
"mid-life crisis", where in their mid-40's or early 50's they feel like they have achieved most of their life goals but are still not content or not successful enough.
"There is joy and excitement to be found in any experience, and success is choosing to orient yourself towards it." Unknown.
Success ultimately comes from having a sense of meaning and purpose in life and by working hard on the current problems and challenges in your life. So feeling successful is really the result of doing something that is meaningful and productive and being consistently true to your values over long periods of time.
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and true to yourself.