Achieving success and fulfillment in life is about right perspective and wisdom. Perspective of what truly matters and wisdom of who you are, what you are designed to do that no one else does quite like you and how to leverage that for the things that truly matter. Above all, success personal, fluid and contextual.
- Personal. Defining what success looks like is something you have to do in a quiet place. Many things are best done in community, but this isn’t one of them. Only you can answer the question of what success really looks like for you. Don’t give into the clichés. It isn’t necessarily nice cars, world travel, beach homes, expensive jewelry or fame. At the same time, don’t go generic and undefined. Things like “changing the world,” “being happy” or “raising great kids” are undefined and therefore unreachable and uninspiring. You don’t get up in the morning to “change the world,” you get up in the morning to build a company that is revolutionizing the way underprivileged people get access to healthcare – and you change the world with your passion for that attainable, measurable ideal.
- Fluid. How you define success today isn’t likely the same way you’ll describe it in 20 years. There are a lot of reasons for this, but knowing that up front is critical. Don’t lock yourself into a definition that limits you because you can’t accept new data. Over time you’re going to move in a direction, learn new things, meet new people and form new thought-processes. When that happens it would be good to re-evaluate. How does that affect my definitions in life? From that, how should I adjust my current energy flow? Are there projects I should drop? Relationships? Should I just take the project I’m working on and change its direction? Remember, life is like a powerful river. If you don’t learn to master using its flow to go where you want it will take you where it wants to. (And likely beat the crap out of you on the way there.)
- Contextual. Success can only be understood within the context of the life in which it was achieved. Two illustrations should help here. We can all agree that Michael Jackson was extremely successful in his career. But when you factor in the sadness of the whole of his life you have to ask the question – how successful was he as a whole? Second example, there is a girl that grew up, got through school and then got married and raised a few kids who were good men and women as they grew up. Then she died. Frankly, I just depressed myself. Until you know the context. She was born blind, physically and sexually abused growing up, lived in poverty in a third world country and had a crippling disease hit her when she was 25 that meant she was in constant pain her whole life. And the lack of education, poverty and abuse was a pattern in her family for at as far back as anyone could remember. Because of her life the pattern changed and a foundation of love, hard work and healthy relationships was laid for many generations after her to rise up from. Now ask yourself if you think she was an amazing person or not.
Before you set out to create a system (or adopt/adapt one), you need to have these things firmly in mind. Know who you are (strengths, talents and personality), what your value is (how you bring who you are to the world in a meaningful way) and what you value (what is it that you believe is bigger than you and that you have to incorporate in your life to be successful). Only then is your system worth squat.
If you can learn to have the wisdom of knowing & controlling what you can control in your life (thoughts, actions & attitudes), then you can constantly move forward on your personal journey that is successful & fulfilling.
What resonates with you about this? What annoys you? But mostly, I want to know what you’re going to do about it…your move.