Define Success: Is Achieving A Goal Really A Success?
Suffice to say everyone can define "success" on their own terms. But the challenge is that whatever those terms are, once you consider yourself having achieved success, you get a feeling of emptiness. More targets pop up for you to achieve in order to be considered more successful.
We are constantly chasing success and get tired trying to achieve success. Do we ever sit down to define what success is? If we are able to define success, maybe then it sets a parameter for us to judge for ourselves if we are truly successful.
Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson’s article – Success That Lasts (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition) helped me put a new perspective into how I define success. In the article they mentioned, “…success doesn’t have to be seen as a one-dimensional tug-of-war between achievement and happiness.”
It opened a new angle for me to look at success and how I can help some of my staff define success for themselves. This is especially important in an age where job satisfaction is falling and more and more talented executives get disgruntled with work. Maybe helping them define success would help increase their sense of achievement and happiness.
It is complex to define success, but the authors broke enduring success into 4 components:
For one to feel real success, you need to fulfill all four components. The challenge is you cannot segment your life in a modular fashion into any of these four categories. For example, you cannot say that you would satisfy your happiness component via self and legacy via family. For one to feel satisfied with their success, one has to hit these four components with regularity. While this may sound tough, the author stresses that you can do it with one single event or you can do it,“…through a juxtaposition of activities.”
I further like the way they define success in that success isn’t about “breaking through limitations.” To achieve success is also about giving up some things for the sake of others. They called this “on the reasoned pursuit of just enough.”
If you define success in this larger framework you will begin to see success very differently and more meaningfully too.
I recommend that you read the original article “Success That Lasts.” It appears as a solo article Success That Lasts (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition).
Or you can read a collection of articles in Managing Yourself (HBR OnPoint Collection). HBR OnPoint Collection is usually made up of 3 articles that distill the essence of certain topics. I like these as they give you a good overview from a few angles. This particular collection is made up of these articles - “Managing Oneself” by Peter F. Drucker, “Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions?” by Donald M. Sull and “Success That Lasts” by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson.
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