Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Success or What?

  
 Here's one I wrote for some business journal, but I was kinda thinking, you know, that it's worth a read.

 
The Successful Self
They say confidence is the companion of success, so how would you react if someone were to ask you this question: are you successful?  For a lot of people success conjures up the image of the rich, the famous and the powerful. In reality though, this is not what true success is about at all. True and fulfilling success actually has nothing to do with achieving wealth, fame or power. Success is personal and it’s different for every individual. The secret to true success is to know just what it is that makes you tick. Understanding how important it is to follow your own personal desires and values is the first step to fulfillment, and that is what success is all about: personal fulfillment.
For example, a few years ago, a friend of mine was running a very busy GP practice. She managed to have two afternoons a week free, was financially independent and had a very supportive family. You could say she had everything going for her, and most people would definitely have labeled her with the word ‘successful’. However, after much deliberation she made the decision to close her practice. The reason was that she had never really wanted to become a medic. Throughout her school years she had measured success through her academic achievements, and when she graduated from school with flying colours, studying medicine seemed to be the next step to success. At university she followed the same pattern, and it was only when she was a well established doctor that she stopped to ask herself the question ‘is this really what I want from life?’ In her case, it wasn’t. She had always been a passionate gardener. So she decided to follow the dream that she had always been afraid of, and started growing flowers. She now runs a thriving business, growing and selling flowers at country markets. As she told me herself, no matter how good her GP practice was, she was never going to experience personal success at it, as it wasn’t her true passion, her dream. She had been living by other peoples measures of success and not her own.

We all have our own idea of success and most of us will strive to achieve this. And it is true that some will end up being top of their game, while others may not quite make it. But does that mean they are unsuccessful?  The meaning of success is complex. It has numerous definitions and manifests itself in different ways. Ultimately, your success is all about what you are searching for in life, whether it is family or career oriented. Some people’s measure of success is extremely focused. Someone whose dream it is to sail around the world, for example, will have one very clear way to measure that success – whether they get to do it or not. A stay at home mother, on the other hand, may measure her success in a very different way. It all boils down to your perspective on life, and in turn your perspective on what success means.
But it is not always easy to down tools to follow dreams. You might have more than one dream that you want to follow, and sometimes you need to make compromises. But don’t forget this: there are many simple things you can do to feel personal success. It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to do, and you don’t have to better at doing it than anyone else. Just working to be the best you can be, at whatever it is that inspires you, is the true measure of success. 
 Trying to keep up with other peoples measures is never a good thing. Their successes are purely about them, so comparing yourself to others just isn’t worth it. Instead, focus on what it is that you want to get out of life yourself. If you don’t stop and ask yourself what it really is that you want, you could end up overlooking your successes, or worse, trying to be successful at things that don’t really fulfill you.
  It is also important to know the difference between accomplishment, success and true Success. Things that you accomplish are always tasks or actions where there is an end result that you are happy with. It begins with an expectation and ends with a positive completion. A distinction in an examination is an accomplishment, and in general most of us accomplish things every day without experiencing true success in what we have done. Success is different. Let’s say you complete a number of  examinations, resulting in a major qualification, and this qualification in turn, brings you a career that you have always dreamed of, all of these accomplishments added together might be seen as success: in this case, success in business. So you could say that consistently getting the results that you want with regard to your personal life or career may be seen as success.

You can take success further though. This is what I call ‘True Success’.
It is when you chase the things that are close to your heart, the things that make you feel successful, no matter what other people think about them. You could say it’s all about passion and understanding just what it is that makes you tick, because long term, your true successes will always be connected to your heart. And it is up to you make things happen for yourself. As Henry Ford once said, “If you believe that you can do a thing, or if you believe you cannot, in either case, you are right.” So what are the things that really do make you successful? Is it maintaining a great relationship? Leading a team of people at work? Being a stay at home mother running a family? Success can also be about self development, it can be about overcoming a fear or learning a new skill. It is so personal that really nobody else can measure it but you.
 Here are some tips to help you on your way to success:
1.      Believe in yourself. If you don’t nobody else will. And remember, what is important to you, might mean nothing to somebody else.
2.      You are the managing director of your own life. All the successes you experience are completely of your own making. Likewise, lack of personal success is also down to you. Your vision and your choices will drive your results. So take control now and enjoy your success!
3.      It is almost impossible to out perform your own expectations, so think big! Wherever you put yourself on the map will determine how far you go. So if, for example, your measure of success is to run a 10k mini marathon, ask yourself if you can maybe stretch it even further. You never know, you might just see yourself running a fully blown marathon if you put your mind to it.
4.      Success is not about luck. Of course, there is always an element of good and bad fortune in everything we do, but if you wait around for somebody to come and discover you, you might be left waiting a long time. It’s up to you to make it all happen.
5.      You reap what you sow, so be careful with what you plant! Your expectation of yourself is the result you are going to get. So have a think about what you really really want.
6.      You are what you think. Positive thinking brings clear results. If you think you can be the master of your own success, it will truly happen.
7.      You already know what you want (even if you think you don’t!) Although you might find yourself reassessing what matters to you and making some changes to your goals, most of us know deep down what it is that we want, and what it is that makes us feel fulfilled
8.      Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to go with a gut feeling, you have it for a reason.

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