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Success means different things to different people and that’s why it is not the ideal goal for life. However, what should be an ideal definition of success? The problem with success is that we have been asking the wrong questions.
The question ‘what does success look like’ is a question which always yields the wrong answers because it turns the idea of success into a materialistic goal where making it look good becomes the objective. That is where we currently are as a society. It is this definition of success which has turned the society into a shallow, materialistic whole.
The question that we should really be asking in, if we are to take the idea of success in the right direction for the generations to follows is this- what does success feel like? Or rather what should success feel like?
When we ask this question, we will start to get the answers which would help in seeking the right kind of answers.
Who do you consider successful?
Depending on who you are, you would have certain of ideas in life. There would be certain people that you would respect and idolize. Who are those people? The people you consider successful are your benchmarks for the definition of success.
Why do you consider those people successful?
Why you consider the people you consider successful would also help you in understanding the things you value about the people who success you value.
The problem is for most of us, we don’t really have any answers for why we consider people successful besides that they have a lot of money. Just look around or just hear the conversations. What are people saying?
“X has bought a car. Y has bought a house. Z got a raise in salary. C got a promotion.”
Everything is centred on money. People getting promotions, increments, buying this and that, and then they are compared to you. The fact that people are able to buy stuff with the money they make from whatever they do is the definition of success.
The reason is because we are focusing on what does success look like. We are trying to put an outward measure of things that success could buy, to validate that success has indeed happened.
How about caring if people who have bought those stuff are happy? How do they feel inside? Does anybody care about that?
That’s the problem with outward definitions of success. This kind of success buys us things and we use those things, like a car, or a house, we realize that we are quite empty inside.
What needs to be fixed?
We need to tell students to not look for jobs only for the sake of money. We need to start fixing the education system, and stop meaningless comparisons. We need to institute a system where people are recognised basis their individual talents and sense of purpose.
What should success feel like?
Success should feel like completeness of a life mission. We should be able to call ourselves successful when we are able to do work that we find meaningful and purposeful, while making the money to ensure its continuity. In this case, money becomes the fuel to keep doing the work, and not the purpose of the entire exercise of success.
Success should feel like happiness.
If you want to assess if you are successful, ask yourself the below questions:
- Do I feel happy inside?
- Do I think my work and my life has a sense of purpose?
- Do I think life has meaning?
- Do I feel like getting up in the morning to start my work day?
- Do I look forward to life?
- Do I make enough money to keep going?
If the answer to the above questions is yes, then you are indeed successful. Now, this is not easy. Most people are not able to reach a point where they can say yes to all of these questions.
The society currently is not geared towards happiness and only materialistic efforts are rewarded. Thankfully, the start-up (and the art) world is changing and companies with mission are transforming what it means to work, to be successful.
We are heading in the right direction, and it is now more possible than ever to be able to chase your goals and achieve success on our terms. It is possible to get a YES to all these questions if we work on our lives in the right direction.
Who is successful?
As I said in the above section, the society is slowly moving in the right direction and so we have example of people who are mission oriented and purpose driven, who are ideal for the rest of the world.
Let us look at some examples of people I consider successful, and maybe, you will agree with me, that these are the example we should pursue, as models for our lives. They could be in different diverse fields, but what matters is the process and why they do what they do.
Elon Musk is one of the most inspiring people on earth. He is not just an immensely successful person but he is just plain inspiring. He is trying to solve some of the world’s biggest problems and succeeding wildly at that. Over the course of his life, he has founded PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX and has helped found other companies which are changing the world in different ways. I am currently reading his biography and at one point he said that he loved computer games as a child and he could have built a computer games company, but that wouldn’t have had the kind of impact he is currently having.
Elon is an inspiration, although his tweets may not always indicate that.
Jeff Bezos is currently the richest man on the planet, although it is likely that Elon Musk would soon change that statistic. Nevertheless, Bezos is the founder of Amazon, the company that has changed how commerce is done around the world. He founded Amazon in 1994 right before the start of the dotcom boom and now Amazon is all over the world delivering billions of packets generating employment for thousands of people. He has changed the world in the process and made a lot of money for himself.
The reason I mention Bill Burr here is that he is currently the best comedian alive to my mind, and it did not come easy for him. He mentioned in one of his interviews that at one point he had a 12 year gap in his resume since his comedy career wasn’t going anywhere, and he was touching 40, and it just worked, because he kept on going. Watch him, he is incredibly funny, and sharp. My favorite comedian of all time still is George Carlin but Bill Burr is amazing.
All of us born in the 80’s and 90’s India grew up watching the man. He inspired hope in a country which was struggling with its third world status in a world moving quite fast. He did what he loved, and succeeded madly at it. Considered like a God in the Indian subcontinent, he is a massive success.
The singer has been a star right from the moment she stepped on the world stage. She is a fabulous singer and dancer. Is Shakira a success? Yes. She has achieved worldwide fame doing work she loves, and has made millions of people dance to her music around the world.
You get the point?
What is your benchmark for success?
You would create your life depending on who you view as success. The things that the people mentioned above have achieved, and people like these achieve takes a lot of passion, and dedication. It is not easy path. If you choose to go down this path, you would need to work hard, and be patient.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.