I was prompted this week to think about ‘success’ and why it is, or seems to be, so important to many people.
Many people, when asked about their goals, will say “I want to be a success” or “I want to be successful”, and they may clarify this to identify the field in which they want to achieve this ‘success’.
Or they may just have a desire for success – any success!
But what is this thing called ‘success’?
And why do many people want to be ‘successful’ quicker than others as if there is some sort of race going on and the only way to succeed is to be ‘first’?
In the Cambridge Dictionary there are two definitions of success:
“the achieving of results wanted or hoped for”
“something that achieves positive results”
However, in modern usage, the latter is often replaced by ‘the achievement of specific results’.
Now this is all very well if those specific results are set for ourselves by you and I but when ‘success’ can only be achieved in a particular domain by reaching the criteria set by others then it’s not the same thing.
In the Network Marketing industry for example, people are only considered to be successful when they achieve a consistent ‘six figure’ income (in USD of course).
And the thing is that applies whether they themselves actually wanted to achieve that target or not.
The same thing often happens in sales environments. People ‘fail’ if they don’t reach a target set by the company they represent.
Perhaps one of the worst aspects of this is just that – the seemingly general opinion (not of course of held by you and I) that people are either a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’.
Not judged by their own standards or goals but by those imposed upon them.
The secret of success for you and I is in the first definition.
You and I succeed when we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, when we get the results we want, not the targets imposed by someone else.
And also, importantly, not by comparing any aspect of our performance with that of others.
You see, you and I are each inside our personal ‘bottles’ looking out and seeing only the back of the label.
We have our own agendas and they aren’t written on the outside of the label. You and I know what WE want and that’s all that’s important.
Other people can observe from the outside but although they don’t know our agendas they judge still them against theirs and decide, in their opinion, whether or not we are ‘successful’.
The important thing for you and I to remember is that the only thing that matters is our own assessment of our success – even if we’ve been tasked to meet someone else’s targets.
Maxwell Maltz, author of ‘Psychocybernetics’, said that we should resist the urge to compare ourselves to other people.
Success is not about that.
Success, for you and I, is about comparing where we are with where we want to be.
Steven Covey uses the analogy of a maze.
You and I are each in our own maze, and our maze is unique to us. Your maze and my maze have different obstacles, different twists and turns, and different circumstances to cope with.
Someone else might have a simpler maze, or a more complex maze, and as all mazes are different it’s pointless comparing our progress through our maze to how ‘well’ someone else appears to be doing in their maze!
In essence your success and my success is what we each want it to be. Forget about how others are ‘doing’.
They may seem to get ‘there’ faster, but their goals are not our goals and they may be only half way to their destination when we are just a short distance from ours.
And don’t forget –
If you and I have many short term achievable goals we will have far more ‘success’ that someone who has just one huge long term goal.
Right now, I’m a ‘success’ – I’ve succeeded in writing this message.
What’s your success today?
Have a ‘successful’ week.