Much emphasis is placed in the academic, business and personal development ‘worlds’ to name just a few, on the concept of ‘success’.
Being, aspiring to be, or becoming ‘a success’ are often cited as the reason many people do what they do in life.
It’s difficult to fond a definition of ‘success’ as there’s more than one meaning.
You or I can achieve success in a specific enterprise, but it doesn’t necessarily make either of us ‘a success’, especially if the ‘success’ was only to get out of bed in the morning!
Having ‘successfully’ completed any particular mission only means we have achieved a specific goal; it doesn’t make us a ‘success’ just as not achieving it doesn’t make us a ‘failure’.
Then again, someone can be a success in a specific field or occupation, but what makes them a ‘success’ – or not – from a holistic view?
Many famous people are cited as ‘successes’ often by people such as journalists who really don’t know much about them.
They use criteria such as wealth or sporting prowess, even their ‘visibility’ in the media, but how does one measure success, if indeed it is possible to do so?
There are many books and programmes on some variant of ‘How to Become a Success’. Most of these use wealth as the measure but as we have seen that’s not the whole story.
One could suppose achieving a certain level of ‘significance’ would mean success, but there are also some very significant ‘failures’ as well.
Both significance and success in this context are comparative measures rather than anything else.
You and I can be a success compared with someone less significant that ourselves, or less wealthy, or less knowledgeable and so on, but does that make us ‘a success’?
I think not and indeed this whole idea of the pursuit of success, other than as it pertains to a specific endeavour, project or mission, is futile and probably counter productive.
The thing is, we cannot be ‘a success’ at everything.
Many so-called successes are also utter failures in another area of their life. Many famous or wealthy ‘successes’ have failed dismally with their personal relationships, and the converse is also true. Some who have made an amazing success of marriage are ‘failures’ in another area of life.
This pursuit of success we are encouraged and even conditioned to undertake from an early age is actually a restriction on our personal freedoms.
We are distracted from those things which really make us happy and help us feel free, to take up the challenge of society and become, in their eyes, a ‘success’, which an unachievable quest.
Unless . . .
Unless we forget about ‘being a success’ in the eyes of others and just get on with whatever it is we love to do.
Unless we focus on what makes us happy, do it ‘full on’ and do it well. What we achieve may seem insignificant in the eyes of society, we may not end up ‘rich and famous’, but to ourselves, and we are the only one that matters, we will be a success.
Together with that we will also probably achieve a level of significance in our own field, or if you like, become a ‘success’ in the field of operation in which we fulfil our personal passion.
‘Being a Success’ is not about how much money we accrue, how much power we gain, or how much media exposure we achieve.
In his book ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill lays out a number of ‘principles of success’ resulting from the assignment given him by Andrew Carnegie to interview hundreds of prominent so called ‘successes’ in the USA. He also recalls interviewing a large number of ‘failures’ as well on his journey to analyse what these people were doing or not doing.
Whilst there is much great teaching in this book Hill tends to see the achievement of ‘success’ in terms of how others assess you rather than how you assess yourself.
To be a success in your own eyes is what matters, not what other people think.
Focus on your personal passion, become successful at it, and be free.