“Whatever your idea of success, the chances are that you would love to know how to make ‘it’ happen. Discover the ancient secrets to success! ”
The Secret of Success revealed here! Ok, ok, I know the title is a bit grabby and showy – we see headlines like this all the time.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like these days my Facebook and Instagram feeds are littered with ‘how to be successful’ videos. They often consist of some bloke passionately talking about the one secret to how you can ‘enhance’ your success… and I’m just tired of it.
“slavery dwells beneath marble and gold.”
Seneca – ancient stoic philosopher.
Success can mean many different things to us, depending on our view of the world. By and large, success is usually thought of in terms of finance and achievement. If I were to ask you to think of somebody successful, who comes to mind? Perhaps you think of characters like Steve Jobs? Or perhaps Barack Obama? Or maybe you think of someone in your circle that inspires you?
Success doesn’t necessarily have to be defined by material standards. If you want to know how to get somewhere, you first need to understand where ‘where’ is; so it is the same with success. What even is success anyway?
When I speak to a lot of younger people, they fancy the idea of ‘making it big‘… which I think is another way of saying ‘having loads of people know who I am’. What if we drilled down into a more personal idea of success. What if we abandon the superficial desire for fame and money – it’s so stereotypical anyhow. A desire for success can shape you, but what do we even mean by the word success?
[ictt-tweet-blockquote]“I’m a thousand times bigger on the inside than I am on the outside.” – Smith Wigglesworth[/ictt-tweet-blockquote]
Us humans are fickle. We call someone who earns millions successful. But there are plenty of miserable and emotionally broken millionaires. There are plenty of businesspeople at the top of their game who are three projects away from a breakdown.
To go far, you have to go deep and understand what your measure for life is going to be. If we measure success by material gain, then what happens to us when we lose everything, or if we never achieve that gain?
Our world will shatter.
This week my prayer was around being a successful husband. What does it mean to lead my family successfully? Everything that adds to us as strong people begins with the private and inner world. When our inner being is sure and steadfast, the external stuff is much more comfortable.
This ranges from having our house to having our priorities right.
Firstly, you need to define success for yourself. If you are unsure about what you should be aiming for in life, people will try and put their stamp on it. There is nothing wrong with being spurred on, but a better driver for your life is not someone else’s motivation. It is your motivation that will carry you forward by understanding what matters most.
What is success in your private life? What does it mean to be successful in your work? Is it about promotion, or can you reach for something more meaningful? Nobody said at the end of their life that they wish they had worked more hours. Nobody said, bring me more work to do before I die.
Whatever your values, you need to define success for yourself, but for me, I want to measure the success of my life based on the ‘who’ and not the ‘what’. I want the end of my life to be filled with more people, more meaningful relationships and more joyful and profound moments.
Success means developing thriving relationships and honouring others. It means influencing others for the better and serving others well with our abilities. I want to carry an attitude of positivity and not cynicism; challenging the mundane and pursuing constructive conflicts. Success means excelling where possible to fulfil my potential. These are my drivers for success in who I am becoming, not ‘what’ I will have achieved.
You need to define it for yourself.
I’m not saying it can’t be about attaining a promotion or achieving a goal. I’m a big believer in setting goals. However, you define success for yourself, make sure it has substance, and it shapes your character as much as your time spent doing stuff.
Once you have a working definition, you know towards what you are aiming. It might be obvious once you get there, but how do you know you are making progress?
You have to measure it.
If I wanted to be successful at teaching, I might decide that a high pass rate is my measure. Or I might decide that the number of students going on to fulfil their desired career is my measure. Depending on how close I am to that number would shape my understanding of how successful I am.
Something that might be harder to measure is how well your family bonds. If I set my family’s definition of success as consistently trusting, opening up and nurturing their actual needs over their perceived needs, then I need a whole different way of measuring it. After all, these are elements that are more felt than listed. It’s not as hard as you think. The measure for this kind of success might be a consistent level of quality time is being had. The measure might be that one or two days a week is reserved for you to have bonding time to deepen your relationships. The way you would know it is working would perhaps be an agreed perceived deeper level of trust, banter and encouragement.
There are endless examples, but I wanted to illustrate two ends of the spectrum to show you that you can measure anything – you just have to think creatively about it.
“Try not to become a [person] of success, but rather become a [person] of value.” – Albert Einstein
I honestly don’t think it is much more complicated than defining it and refining it. Decide what you mean by success for each area of your life and shape that around who you want to become rather than what you want to do. And then think of some creative ways to measure it. Ask yourself how you will know you are making progress over the next few years. See it is a lifetime journey and not something to happen instantly.
Let me know what you think success is and how you move towards it.
Write down what you think a successful life looks like.
Decide for yourself what you think is the most important thing to have done by the end of your life.
Write down a way in which you can measure it.
Image Credits: Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash, Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
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