“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” — Bill Gates
The struggle we face is staying committed to our goals long after the novelty has worn off.
I’ve heard many reasons why people give up on their goals such as: “It wasn’t meant to be” or “It wasn’t fun anymore” or “Life is about having fun.” The point worth emphasising is, we can create all the reasons in the world not to follow through on our commitments with evidence to support it. But is this how we want to live our life? Hiding behind our doubts and insecurities just to feel better?
We don’t want to be wrong and will give up on a goal rather than risk looking foolish to ourselves. Known as confirmation bias, it is the tendency to look for evidence or evaluate information in a way to confirm our bias. Let’s be honest, we’re all prone to it and just because I’m writing this article doesn’t make me immune from it. The key is to be aware and take the right action, so we don’t fall into our comfort zone while our goals slip away from us.
Our beliefs about success will help or hinder our progress. They may be unconscious, meaning we formed beliefs we are unaware of and look for evidence to support them, thus self-sabotaging our efforts to succeed. I like author Larry Weidel’s definition of what success entails: “Success has two rules: 1. Pay full price. 2. Pay in advance.”
Countless biographies about successful people line the bookshelves where the narrative seldom involves an easy path. Let’s be clear: success is built on discipline, hard work, perseverance, grit, will and courage. It is motivational author Brendon Burchard who writes in High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way why we must focus on the main task and not be distracted by unimportant matters: “To succeed, always remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
It is almost certain we will fail at some point pursuing our goals. It is almost certain we will want to give up. It is almost certain we will experience mental and emotional distress. It is almost certain we will neglect our health, family, and relationships and invest all our time in pursuing our goal. However, Brendon Burchard believes: “A warrior’s destiny is greater than his wounds.”
Let’s be clear on what success is. It can relate to areas of life where progress is reached. It is not defined by material wealth, nor fame or international recognition alone. I’m drawn to the founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani’s definition of success when he writes in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms: “I came to the conclusion that the way we define success, centred only on the two metrics of money and power, is just a very inadequate way to define life. It’s like trying to sit on a two-legged stool — sooner or later, we topple over. And that’s when I came up with this idea of the third metric of success, which consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”
In a similar vein, it was Bob Dylan who once said: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” Yet, success is fickle. We pursue it believing it holds the key to our happiness. We pursue it to make up for our shortfalls and hide behind wealth and fame to make up for our childhood insecurities. We chase success believing once we reach it we will be: complete, fulfilled, happy, recognised and better off. However, if success is pursued for the wrong reason, we amplify the self-doubt already present within us.
“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them. ” — Steve Maraboli
It is author and businessman T Harv Ecker who once said: “It’s bad enough being a prick, but being a prick with millions of dollars is far worse. You’re bound to use your power and wealth to justify your self-worth.” To take a similar view, what happens to a millionaire’s self-esteem if they go bankrupt? The same thing that happens to elite athletes when they’re injured; a deflated self-worth resulting in depression and anger.
They learn to identify with their performance alone while neglecting their human qualities. I’m not suggesting it’s their fault because seconds count when it comes to a gold medal. We want to reach success for the right reasons and be fulfilled on all levels. Success is not the answer if you’re looking to ease your problems. It will only compound them if you pursue it blindly.
You might think from the tone of the article I am opposed to success. Quite the contrary, I enjoy success and embrace it for what it brings to my life. It has allowed me to help others realise their potential, however small or big. The story of success reminds me of The Fisherman and the Businessman tale told in countless business books.
Success requires us to be purposeful about our lives according to Brendon Burchard: “Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self and start acting like that person today.” Success involves going from failure to failure without a loss in enthusiasm because if we stay committed to our goals and pursue them with determination, vigour and courage, our efforts will be rewarded.
Success shapes a man.
It promotes his sense of self and instils purpose and meaning in his life. Success is the expansion of life coursing through us. It needs to grow and cultivate new beginnings so it may know its creative potential. It does this through us as the vessel to know its creative force.
It was Winston Churchill who once declared: “ Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” It is by overcoming our failures while maintaining our enthusiasm that we realise every lost opportunity, every setback and failed attempt was perfectly orchestrated to lead us to the last door of success.
Originally published at medium.com