“Why do you think some people are successful in life and others are not?”
Well, first off, I don’t think it has anything to do with how hard you work. It’s really all about definitions, isn’t it? I took a workshop once where the primary question the presenter asked us was what our definition of success was, and how we would know when we had achieved it. Until then I guess I had always thought success was fixed, like a statue I could wave at and who would never wave back at me. That got me really thinking about it though.
So, what does success mean to me? To figure that out I had to break down what it could mean.
- Making a jillion dollars
- Getting accolades at work
- Becoming a famous author
- Being a good father
- Being a good husband
- Staying fit and active
- Conquering my fears
- Being a good role model
- Making a jillion dollars (yeah, I know I said it before)
Seriously, though, success in any form has to have a sense of fulfillment at the end, otherwise it can’t truly be seen as success. If my goal was to conquer my fears and I still have a fear I haven’t conquered then I cannot claim to be successful. If I want to be a famous author, just being an author doesn’t cut it. That’s the glory of specifying those definitions of success, because it creates levels that I can achieve along the way to becoming truly successful. For example, even though I pluralized the word “accolade,” if I can get the first one it will spur me on to getting future ones.
So, if you set low goals then you have a better chance of reaching them, right? If my goal is to make a thousand bucks then I’ve already reached it (and spent it too), but a jillion is so much more enticing, isn’t it? It would make me feel so much more fulfilled to get there eventually. And being a good role model takes vigilance and patience because it’s a constant state of being, just like being a good father and being a good husband. I am successful at them as long as I keep them foremost in my mind and do what it takes. I set my goals high because I think the harder I have to work to achieve them the more I’ll treasure them.
It’s definitely all about definitions, now that I think about it. Individually we have our own definitions of success, but as a collective, as a culture, we decide things with the mass mentality. What the media tells us is success we find successful. Whatever makes us green with envy we decide must be that cultural definition of success, whether or not we personally think that way. It’s crazy how that works, and yet it’s been proven time and again with young girls trying to be “skinny” like the models, or people falling into a deep depression because they aren’t able to “tan right.”
Success is a state of mind, so I’m setting my mind toward lofty goals, but ones that are achievable over time, and with determination. What others find successful is up to them, but I’m not going to begrudge someone the success they’ve achieved. That wouldn’t make me a good role model. Oh yeah, and to answer the question: some people are successful in life because they recognized early on that those who can define their own success have all the power. That, and knowing influential people. Yeah, that too.