The Keys to Success
Most people, when asked, will tell you that they would like to someday be successful. I think it’s important, first, to understand what a person’s definition of success is. What’s your definition of success? Is success based in a career? If yes, does the amount of money you earn determine how successful you are, or will be?
Success, I believe, means something different to nearly all of us. Some would say that gaining fame or recognition is succeeding, and they’re probably right if they’ve achieved that and claim to be successful. I don’t doubt that type of success at all, but I personally believe that success exists in multiple areas of our lives, in public and private.
My wife and I recently watched a BBC documentary, and to the tribes in a particular part of Africa, the number of cattle they owned helped determine their wealth. Wealth, of course, does not have to equal success. Oftentimes wealth and success might not even be lumped together. I know some people who would consider that last sentence crazy, and that’s fine, because they prefer their definition of success.
I find Jim Breuer to be one of the funniest comics today. In “Let’s Clear the Air,” Breuer explains that he is quite grateful that he wasn’t successful at too young an age, because his idea of success shifted. Watch the video to learn what his idea of success used to be.
So what is the key to success for you? I’ll openly admit that I’m certain about some factors to my success, yet still unsure about others. But when it comes to defining success, I’m most comfortable using words like happiness, love, goals, and comfort. Yeah, yeah, that’s probably considered cheesy to many people, but I’ll break it down a little for you.
Happiness of course is the most difficult to properly wrap up in a nice bow, so I’ll save that one for last. As for love, I do not feel I need love from everyone I meet. Yet I do believe that everyone, despite of what we know of their character, deserves kindness. This doesn’t mean that everyone gets a free pass, no. In the documentary The Interrupters, former gang members who have served serious prison time now volunteer their time on the streets of Chicago to “interrupt” violence and create a loving intervention style bond with kids who are at risk. It’s this type of mentoring, this love, that can help turn these kids toward something better.
So love comes in many forms, and we can see its power turn a potentially dangerous situation into something positive. That’s some serious success right there! And that love is being poured out even to those who don’t immediately reciprocate. That’s okay, though, because I believe it is possible for people to turn around. And even if they don’t, it’s still something for us to say that we tried, and we were kind in the process.
Love comes from family and friends, and most importantly, my wife, who is my best friend. With such a strong network of family and friends, I feel great joy daily. I may not always believe in myself, because sometimes challenges feel like mountains, but my loved ones are always there to remind me that those mountains really are nothing more than stones, and with a little determination, I can move them.
Love helps me through my day. I love when my wife smiles at me, gives me a hug or kiss (or both!), tells me she loves me, and praises me. She doesn’t need to do those things, but she loves me, and it comes easy for her as a result.
A phone conversation with my grandma is a great boost to any day. Grandma is always interested, always supportive, and always great to listen to. She talks about the latest event at church, and she talks about helping my dad out at his studio, and she tells us about the weather and what it might mean for her yard. She also is so caring and selfless. She says she has the best grandsons in the world. Well, we have the best grandma!
To have love, even if it is shared with just one other person, is to have some form of success. I can honestly say that the list of people I know personally who pour out love is a long one. They no doubt have that successful part of life as well.
I feel that I should always have some goals to achieve. A small goal I have is to illustrate a funny inside joke my wife and I have about cleaning our dogs, and have it printed to put on our wall someday. A larger goal I have is to become a master at Photoshop and web design/coding. This goal I believe I can achieve, but it will take time and determination. Some days are better than others when it comes to motivation to learn more, but I am getting better, and the results I believe will make me achieve another goal: Being a full-time graphic designer.
Goals can spawn in many ways. I love being creative, especially in the visual form, so my goal of being a graphic designer the rest of my life is an ongoing one. I also have a goal to finish my current book before we move back to the U.S. Achieving each and every goal should be considered a success. It may seem silly to consider finishing a book a success, but I believe the important thing to point out is that we determine something we want to do, and we do it. Recognizing your own achievement is perfectly fine. You can even do what Tony Robbins suggests and pat yourself on the back when you’ve achieved a goal. Try it! It might seem weird, but the more you do it, the chances are the better you’ll feel for it.
No doubt I have many, many more goals than just the ones mentioned above. I could talk about what I’d like to do at my next job, or where I’d like to go on vacation, or what I’d like to learn about next in web design. What I believe is most important is to have many goals, big and small. And a lot of goals do not need a deadline. Set a goal for yourself, and don’t force a deadline on it. Enjoy achieving it at your own pace. You will feel some form of success for it, I’m sure!
Regarding comfort, I cannot lie, because I do want to not have to worry about the next paycheck in life. I by no means need to be rich, where purchasing a car on the fly is no big deal. In fact, regarding money, I really only want enough to pay off student loans, get a home for my wife and family someday, and be debt free. Well, I’d also love to make enough to give to charities. Beyond that, I don’t need to have a lot of money. I would love to have the comfort to know that if an emergency would come along, we don’t have to wonder how we’re going to cover it. So, when it comes to success, I don’t want riches, just comfort.
I must say, however, that comfort depends on your perspective. As I mentioned earlier, the tribes in Africa felt some form of wealth through the number of cattle they owned. They don’t own cars or televisions, and they’re okay with that. They’re comfortable with what they have. My situation is different from theirs, so I also need to be grateful for what I have and not take it for granted. I think our culture often conditions us to take some of what we have for granted. It’s important for me to be thankful for the computer I’m using to type these words. It’s important to be thankful for the lasagna I made last night. I’m probably more than comfortable in a lot of ways.
Regarding happiness, I don’t want to talk about coming to the end of my life and saying, “Yep, through all that I can say I’m happy.” I don’t need to wait that long to recognize happiness. I’m happy right now. I’m not always happy about every aspect of my life, but my problems cannot be solved with one phone call. With that in mind, I look around, think about what I do have and where I am, and yes, I’m happy. I have a beautiful wife, a supportive and loving family, wonderful dogs, great friends all over the world, and I’m healthy. There are question marks in front of some things going forward, but those are usually positioned in front of goals, and I’m working on those. I’m happy about myself most of the time. There are areas that need continued improvement, but I have yet to meet a perfect person, so I know that all people around me also have areas they need to work on. Yep, I’m happy. I’m happy because I have too many reasons to be happy.
So the key to success really translates to keys. I believe I have most of those keys, and the ones I don’t have will come in time. Keep your head up and move forward, and that no doubt will help you realize that success is attainable. It’s okay if you trip. You need to trip to move forward sometimes.
Tonight I get to speak with a group of students and professors from my alma mater. My friend Andrew will also speak to the group. We are going to talk about our current work, how it relates to our education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and what we might have done differently during our time at the university knowing now what we have accomplished in our careers. Because I was in the technical communication program and am now focusing on graphic design, some of my answers might prove a little difficult, but no doubt I feel my education helped me get to where I am now. I look forward to speaking with the group (this is the second time I’ve participated in a meeting like this), and I hope that the students will feel satisfied with my speaking. Because I’m still in Berlin, the meeting will be at 1 a.m. Germany time, so I doubt I will be the most lively of the bunch!
Thanks for reading. Please let me know what it is that makes you feel successful. I love to hear how others have achieved their goals and felt successful.Blog. Bookmark the permalink.