Let’s Talk About Success, Baby: Part 1

We need to talk about success.

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People tend to think of it as the end result of a competition -- a race with a finish line, and at the end of the finish line are wealth, power, and influence.

In this view of success, there are winners and losers: not everyone will cross that finish line and some people will cross it sooner or faster than others. 

In other words, this success isn’t something that everyone can have, and some people must be more successful than others.

I see this definition of success as a dangerous trap for both businesses and individuals. Let me explain.

More and more, you hear stories of people who achieve what they think of as markers of success, only to find themselves thinking, “Is that all there is? This is what I busted my butt for?” or “Now what?” We all know people who have high-power jobs or great salaries but they’re miserable, overly stressed and unfulfilled. So why don’t they feel successful?

  • Because if success is just defined a reaching a specific milestone, then you’re left with nothing to do after you get there.
  • Because if success is just defined as just earning lots of money, then you’ll get trapped by the need to keep earning more.
  • Because if success is just defined by artificial, external indicators that have been your primary focus, then there’s a good chance you’ve been neglecting your personal life and relationships.

People say success brings freedom, but that’s only true if you know what you want freedom from and what you’ll do once you have that freedom.

I say we need better language to talk about and define success, and am going to dedicate the next few blog posts to exploring this idea. I hope you’ll join me!