Happy Tuesday from blustery Connecticut. I can tell fall is in the air, as my seasonal allergies are starting to pick up again.
The topic for discussion tonight is truly one of the most subjective in the world – Success. As humans and entrepreneurs the way we define success really defines us as well. As there is no one correct definition of success, I wanted to share my perspective about success and how I see it as being attained.
I think it’s safe to say that for most of us the first definition of success comes from society and our parents – Go to school, get an education, get a good job, make money, maybe get married and start a family and be able to afford the good things in life. Our initial interaction with success is about getting good grades or being the best athlete on the field – it’s always tied to winning and being the best. But what’s missing from that initial meeting is being happy. There is always talk of sacrifice and working hard – but there is never the question of does that make you happy. In my opinion, this is where many people stay in their definition and have a very incomplete view of success.
This overly materialistic and short-sighted definition gets worse for young adults. In college, instead of being encouraged to major in what sets their soul on fire (like philosophy, history, english, sociology) – students are pushed towards Utilitarian degrees like business, marketing, accounting, or some other more practical and applicable degree. Why are they pushed in this direction? Of course it’s to make sure they can land a high paying job, buy a fancy house, expensive car and do something they don’t really love. I get in trouble with friends sometimes for this term – but it is forcing students to sell-out their dreams for worldly pleasures.
Advertising and movies don’t help the cause either. Constantly pushing the story arcs of happiness and success being tied to material success. One is successful and happy when they have more than they need and driven by their wants. It’s a dangerous mix of companies wanting to get people to spend and targeting people at impressionable ages with this false definition of success. This forced definition of success produces an overly competitive society – where people learn that their wants trump the good of society and leads to a nation of Daffy Ducks!!!!
In my opinion, Success is not what you have, but who you are. It means being able to see the forest and not just your tree. It requires an open mind and the courage to understand that needs are more important than wants. Success is happiness, however you define it. It also means that in business success is not tied to the bottom line. Being happy to do your job everyday, loving what you do and making enough to cover your bills and save a little is successful.
In general, Success is a very personal thing. It should be doing things that make the individual feel like they are making a difference in the world. Success cannot and should not be tied to material gains. I am fond of saying – I could lose all my material possessions, but my education can never be taken from me. I’d be the most intelligent homeless person in the world. Anchoring happiness and success to some monetary number or what you possess is an empty success. In my opinion, it means focusing in on what will eventually fade away and not focusing on what makes your soul happy.
In closing, I wish you all great success- and by that I mean personal happiness no matter what socioeconomic rung on the ladder you are or end up!!!!