Your idea of success might be different to my idea of success, so how can we define what it is? Most of us think we know the answer, but if it differs from another person’s thoughts, then which is right, and which is wrong?
Chances are that both are right, and neither is wrong. What feels like success to you, might not feel the same way to someone else and vice versa. This means that your successes are relative to your beliefs and standards and possibly not relevant to those of other people.
Of course, there are many shared ideas of what is considered successful. Winning, achieving and overcoming are three words that spring to mind which can instil the feeling of success. The problems often begin when we start to compare our success, or lack of it, to others.
Don’t Judge Yourself Against Others
Unfortunately, we have it engrained into our subconscious from an early age that we can measure how good we are by comparing ourselves to others. If you think about it, a huge part of the entire human existence is based around that.
There is some merit in having criteria to measure against, because it can help us with setting our own standards and goals. It can help us to become, what we believe as successful, by encouraging us to work harder, but there can also be a downside.
I’m sure there’s been at least one time in your life when you wished you were more like someone you admired for their success. This is particularly common when growing up and can cause a feeling of inferiority. Once that sets in, there’s a danger of it becoming a belief.
Forming a negative belief in this way is caused by comparing yourself to others, but the real cause of this, is that this is what you’ve been taught to do. You believe that by looking at others, you can assess how good you are, or aren’t. That’s just plain crazy.
Is it Natural to Compare?
You might think it natural to compare to be able to form an opinion, but that’s only because it’s what you’ve been taught to do. What if you were all alone in a desert, how can you assess your ability or performance if there’s no one there to compare to?
You see, in that situation you can only compare with your own previous results or performance. If you’re comparing yourself with yourself, there can’t be the possibility of feeling inferior. You might feel demotivated if your performance goes down, but at least you know what you were capable of previously and can work at getting back to where you were.
I believe it is a natural thing to compare because our mind needs a yardstick in order to give a perspective or an understanding. If that ability was taken away from us, we’d probably feel lost and our mind would become confused.
As we grow, we develop patterns of behaviour such as using comparisons to give some clarity about life. We’d be unable to know what light is if there was only light and no dark. How would we know what good is if there was only good and no bad? When it comes to our own success, comparing to others can help, but it can so easily have the opposite effect.
My Idea of Success is About Me!
In my career I’ve had many successes, some better than others and some, nowhere near as good. The successes of other people aren’t important to me. Having said that, I’m pleased for those people and their achievements, but they don’t really affect me.
What’s really important to me, are my own successes because they are a reflection of my hard work and struggles to achieve them. They have no relevance to anyone else, only me.
Some people may not think they’re that great, but that doesn’t matter, because I do. It’s what matters to me that’s important.
For me, my idea of success is all the things I’ve achieved that I wanted to. I also believe that some of the things I wanted to achieve but didn’t, have contributed to my successes.
Each failure really isn’t a failure at all. It’s a lesson to heed, a pointer to get you back on the right road or sometimes, the opening up to the possibility of new opportunities.
Create Your Own Idea of Success
There’s a very good article in Lifehack.org that gives 13 tips from successful people on how to achieve it. While those who have achieved can give advice on how to do it, it still comes back to you.
Only you can know what your idea of success is, and when you really understand that, you’ll realise that comparing yourself to others can give you a false impression of yourself. It’s almost as if you’re deluding yourself.
It’s not that difficult to get success in our life, but unfortunately, we often overlook the smaller achievements. If we look for, and acknowledge them, our idea on what success is, can take on a different meaning.
Important Steps to Success
From the Lifehack article mentioned above, these are the most important factors to me:
Follow your passion – if you’re passionate about something, don’t ignore it, don’t go for second best. You owe it to yourself to follow it, because if you don’t, one day you’ll regret it and it may be too late.
Believe you can succeed – without belief, you have no chance. It was the comedian Steve Harvey who said, “If you see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand.” Believe and achieve!
Follow your intuition – we often don’t pay attention to our intuition because we may not understand it. It’s when we instinctively know something, but don’t know how. It’s that feeling that comes to us without reasoning, from somewhere between our conscious and unconscious mind. If we listen to it, really listen to it, we can learn to understand it.
Don’t be afraid of failure – I touched on this earlier, failing can often teach a wonderful lesson and help us on our way. Bill Gates showed he understands this when he said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Stay positive – it can be tough to do so, but it’s a part of the journey to look beyond “now” and keep an eye on the prize, knowing it will be yours.
Keep at it – there is no excuse for giving up, I’ve said in previous articles that success is often just a little further down the road than failure. Or, as Thomas A Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” You owe it to yourself to keep at it.
Whatever your idea of success is, make it relevant to YOU!