Success, what is it and how do you achieve it? Today I am going to look at both those questions, but firstly as ever with the Equations of Life Series, I start with an equation:
Quantifying what success is for you + fighting to achieve it = success
Success is an entirely individualised experience, meaning only an individual can decide if they have achieved it or not, that is to say whereas for one person participation may be classed as a success, for another it may not. That is why both defining success and working out how to achieve it can be difficult.
For example, let’s say a young boy, we will call him Bob, desires to be a professional golfer, if Bob becomes a professional golfer does that mean he has achieved success?
The answer depends on the opinion of Bob. He may say yes, but he also may say no. But why would he say no, surely if he aspired to be a professional golfer and he has become a professional golfer then he must have achieved success?
Only Bob knows the answer. For example, what if he had set his heart on playing in the British Open and yet despite becoming a professional golfer has never done so?
The problem is to be a professional golfer is far too ambiguous a goal, and what Bob really needs to do is be more specific. For example, what does to be a professional golfer even mean, does that mean a club professional, a tour professional, the next Tiger Woods?
Let’s say Bob decides he wants to be the next Tiger Woods, does that mean if he does not become the next Tiger Woods that he will have failed to achieve success – even if he wins the British Open?
Again, only Bob can answer the question, and he may say no, he has not failed, or he may say yes, he has. The reason we can’t guess what Bob feels is because aspiring to be the next Tiger Woods is equally as ambiguous – in terms of quantifying success – as the original aim to be a professional golfer.
The key to success is learning what success is for you, and then fighting to achieve it.
A person who wins the club championship at his local golf course can be equally if not more successful on a personal level than Tiger Woods. Which seems crazy, but it is true. It all comes down to the person in question and what success means to them.
If by winning the club championship a person feels they have achieved success in life, that they have reached the pinnacle that they can reach, then they are going to feel a great sense of life fulfilment.
But if by winning his sixteenth major, Tiger Woods feels he has not achieved success, then the man who has won a far lesser tournament has achieved something that Tiger Woods has not. Success.
You can never be more than what you are, every person’s body has a limit and if you feel you have taken yourself to that limit and achieved all you can and that to you is success then you have achieved success.
If in this case the club championship winner feels he has achieved success and Tiger Woods feels he has not, then the club championship winner has achieved success and Tiger Woods has not.
I will say it again. It all comes down to perception, only an individual can define what success is for them. If success is about the participation for a person, then participating will equal success, if winning is key for the person, then winning will equal success.
And that’s because success is an emotional feeling, and only when it is felt has it been achieved.
A great example of this may be an out of shape office worker electing to run a marathon. Participation in this marathon may be deemed a great success by that person; however, for someone like Mo Farah (a gold-medal winning distance runner), participation in a marathon is not likely to be enough for him, for him it may only count as a success if he wins. And he may decide he has not succeeded even if he does win, if he is unhappy with the time he ran the marathon in.
Success means what we wanted to mean. For one person success may be getting married and having two children, for another it may be living in middle class suburbia and having two holidays a year, for another it may be driving a nice mid-range car, for another it may be seeing the world, for another it may be spending time with their family, for another it may be all of the latter, for you it may be none of the latter.
Only you know the answer. Which means if you have not achieved success, only you know the reason why. And the reason the majority of people fail to achieve success, is that they are unable to comprehend that success to them is different to success for others.
So rather than focusing on themselves and what success would be for them, they focus on others and what would count as a success for those others, then wonder why they themselves never succeed.
No person can achieve another person’s success. What success is for another person is irrelevant to you, just as what counts as success for you is irrelevant to other people. Only by focusing on yourself and quantifying what success would be for you, do you give yourself a chance of achieving it.
A man without legs cannot win a marathon against men who do have legs if the rules stipulate he must have legs to compete, so a success for this man may be fighting to change the rules so that he can compete. And a victory for him against men who do have legs would not be winning the race, but participating in it.
A person who is not aesthetically beautiful cannot win a beauty contest where the winner is judged on how aesthetically beautiful they are, therefore, not winning does not make them a failure.
A maths genius getting an A- in maths may be a disaster, a maths dunce getting a C may be a great success. On and on I can go.
You can’t fight who you are, nor should you try to because all you can be is who you are. So if you wish to achieve success, look in the mirror and quantify what would merit a success for you, then fight for it. When you do you will know what success truly is and how to achieve it.