What is success anyway? It seems to be so different for so many people, and it’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot. I work with my clients to help them achieve high levels of success in their life and business, and so it’s important that I am clear on what that looks like for each individual. So how do you figure out what success looks like for you?
The thing is, if you aren’t clear on your goals and outcomes, you’ll find it very difficult to get anywhere near them. Let’s face it, if you don’t know what you want, you’re in a weak position when it comes to devising a plan and strategy to get you from where you are right now to where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years or 10.
The sad thing is, this is exactly how most people live their lives – it’s analogous to jumping in your car on your day off and just aimlessly driving around. Where will you end up? No idea. What experiences will you have? No idea. Who’s in control? No one!
I think we can all agree that jumping in your car for a random drive might sometimes be a fun adventure, but it’s not something any of us would want to do every day of our lives. Spontaneity and adventure has it’s place, and venturing into the unknown with no plan, rhyme or reason can be a very rewarding experience… but it can also be a complete waste of time. It’s hit and miss at best, and as someone who’s done this many times, I can tell you from experience that although I’ve had some amazing adventures by employing this philosophy over the years, I’ve also had some really boring, frustrating and even annoying experiences that didn’t really add a lot of value. That said, I knew what I was doing was taking a random gamble, and so I expected to get random results.
But is that really any way to live your life form birth to death? Do you really want to live a life that produces totally random results, sometimes delivering wonderful experiences to you but other times creating annoyance, frustration and wasting precious time you’ll never get back? Or would you rather have more control over your results and outcomes? For me, I like the element of adventure – but it has it’s place, and this is not the predominant way I choose to live my life.
I want results! I know exactly where I want to be, what I want to achieve, and the ways in which I want to get both of those things. I know my outcomes, I have my goals, and I’m clear on my values. But are these things really success?
What does it mean to be successful? Is success defined as a destination, outcome or achievement of some milestone or goal once set? If that’s really the case, then how do you become a perpetual success – how do you maintain the state of being successful over time if success is a destination, a static point in time? Well, I would argue that you can’t.
You see, I don’t think success is a static place. I don’t think success is defined by the achievement of some goal or stated outcome. If it was, successful people would be successful only for a split second, with no more longevity than an orgasm.
I see success as being defined a little differently.
For me, success is someone in perpetual motion. Success is to embrace the only guarantee in life; change. Sure, it’s important to know where you’re going and to have milestones and goals to achieve along the way, but the big mistake is in believing that whether or not you achieve your goals is the defining metric of a successful person. You’re wrong, so very wrong.
Think about it; if success was defined by the outcome – a static point in time around a single event or experience – then you would achieve success only in a fleeting moment, after which you would no longer be successful because everything is evolving and changing all the time. Therefore, what success looks like around a given activity or goal is also changing. To be successful in business in the 1980’s required a certain set of skills, attributes and strategies – I guarantee that if you continued to model those same sets of skills, attributes and strategies today that served you so well 40 years ago you will be anything but successful in business; in fact, you’ll be struggling massively because the world has changed, and everyone else has moved on. There are new ideas, new technologies and new ways of doing things. Those things that defined success in the 1980’s now fall embarrassingly short of the mark.
So, to answer the question, what is success?
Well, of course the specifics of success are different from person to person as each will have their own set of goals and desired outcomes in life. My argument is that these things don’t really define success anyway – instead, success is the ability to maintain perpetual motion towards something you want in life, and the ability to think big enough that there’s never an end point – there’s always somewhere else to go, someone else to meet, and new outcome to achieve.
This is what we see but don’t really acknowledge when we see people we consider to be successful – if Elon Musk continues to do things the same as he’s doing now for the next 10 years I can almost guarantee that he’ll be considered anything but a success in 10 years time, and he knows this better than most. Success is movement. Success is getting after your goals – whatever they are – and always thinking bigger so you’re always setting new goals and raising the bar of what you believe you can achieve in your life and business.
Success is not expensive cars, big houses and 10 holidays a year – yes, successful people are often associated with having the resources to be able to manifest their success in these ways as a visible symbol to themselves and the outside world, but that’s not really what defines their success. What truly defines their success is their ability to always think bigger today than their thinking yesterday, and to be inspired to tenaciously and perpetually move forward. If you get a big house and some fast cars along the way then great, but for me, success is defined by your actions in motion, not some static place in space and time.
I don’t care if you have £1 in the bank or £10,000,000 – if you’re always thinking bigger and always moving forward in getting after what you want in life because you are fuelled by an inspired level of discipline and motivation to get to somewhere better, then in my book you’re successful.
Everyone has the ability to be successful as I define it, and it’s never been easier than it is today to get to where you want to be in life. Just don’t stop when you get there – keep raising the bar and keep moving forward. Get after your own success, and be relentlessly unreasonable in its pursuit.
The only thing standing between you and your dreams is you, and the best thing about that is that you are the only person you have complete control over in this world. So, get out there and make it happen! It’s all on you.