Monday, January 19, 2015

Success: One Man's Definition

Success is personal fulfillment.  It doesn't need to be flaunted or advertised or even noticed by others for it to matter.  It can be a goal to become the next Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett, or super-dad.  To play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix or to be the first of your family to graduate from college.  Success is how you perceive your own life - not how the outside world perceives it and especially not how much money and material goods you can accumulate.  This isn't just a rah-rah cliché - it's the facts.  Ask people who you perceive to be successful about how they reached that level.  Research what people did before they became famous.  I guarantee you that you will find a common thread between their stories.  They didn't do it for the money, they did it because of their love of the pursuit of excellence in their chosen field. 

To begin, I have come to believe that four categories of people exist as it pertains to success:

1)  Those who achieve success and stay on top.  These rare people are "bred" for success - they are brought up from day one training toward a certain goal or who somehow recognize the opportunity early on and have the wherewithal to seize it.  They also accumulate the life skills required to stay on top.  These people may have been guided by a parent or mentor from an early age, but the passion to succeed in their chosen field came from within.  They somehow recognized an opportunity and seized it.  Examples may include:  Warren Buffett, Beethoven, Michael Jordan
2)  Those who reach success, but eventually fall from grace.  They have the technical skill acquired from just enough effort to be able to reach a certain level, but they do not have the mental fortitude to stay on top and, therefore, eventually sink back to the realms of the regular Joe – or worse.  These people may have been pushed beyond their limits by a parent to participate in some activity as a child, without possessing an actual passion for that activity.  Or, they may have lost their senses and control of their own life to a non-desirable trait, like greed or envy or addiction. Examples may include:  Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf; One hit wonder artists; Tiger Woods, to some extent; Bernie Maddoff.
3)  Those who slowly, surely, work towards success.  These people are not brought up knowing what they are going to do or accomplish from an early age, but they eventually come to the realization that, to get what they want out of life, they need to prepare differently from others – train more rigorously, study more intensely, etc.  They understand and possess passion, which leads to goal-setting.  That passion eventually consumes their lives and everything they set out to do in some way is a step towards achieving their goal.  This is the category most successful people fall into and the category anyone can become a part of.  These people tend to have the strongest foundation and, once they achieve success, they tend to stay on top.  They know failure; they’ve felt it most of their lives, but they do not view these missteps as setbacks, but instead as building blocks to a stronger foundation.  Examples may include:  Steve Jobs, many pro athletes.
4)  Those who never achieve success and never strive to, either.  Not much explanation is needed on this one.  We all can name a handful of people who never seem to want anything out of life.  They stay on the sidelines watching others, often critiquing, but rarely participating.  The most frustrating of this category is the man who is blessed with a good brain, a strong body, or an ear for beautiful music, but who fails to recognize these features as gifts and don’t utilize them or develop them to full potential.  Even worse, some bank on these gifts to just “get by”, diminishing the need to develop other life skills along the way, and creating a ceiling on their potential as they progress through life.  Whether the root cause is a lack of awareness of the power of their gifts or pure laziness, the couch is home, instead of the gym, the office, the concert hall. 
My purpose for writing this blog is to focus on #3; if you're reading this blog, it is highly likely you fit into this category.  I hope to provide inspiration for the individual who possesses the tools - they have the courage, drive, and passion - to succeed, but may lack direction.  I hope to show you how others have overcome these obstacles, giving you stepping stones to assist in your journey to a life of fulfillment.

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