How to be successful

Ah, success — that subjective, elusive compulsion that guides our lives. Difficult to attain, yet easy to define:

The accomplishment or prosperity of an aim or purpose.

I’m not one for motivational ramblings, but I’ve noticed most conversations within my inner circle lately relate to this topic. And Simon Sinek’s video on Millennials in the Workplace which recently went viral got me thinking. So here goes.

Why you’re not successful

It is irrefutable that the digital revolution has brought on a plethora of changes that have redefined our status quo from every perspective. In core terms, it has given us access to an ubiquitous, endless pool of information, and the ability to spread and share that information with ease.

This has resulted in an unprecedented, exponential increase in society’s rate of development. In other words — “the world is moving faster” or “the future ain’t what it used to be”. It has also sparked in all of us a pervasive apprehension that other peoples lives are much better than ours. Let me explain.

Our newfound ability to constantly stream our lives in a premeditated manner has led people to cautiously select and create the image they want to portray of themselves before sharing it with others. And if you are constantly and subconsciously comparing your behind-the-scenes life with everyone else’s highlight reel, you will become depressed.

That sense of constant change and uncertainty, coupled with the distressing feeling that everyone else has everything figured out is hardly a good mindset to find your aim or purpose. And it’s difficult to reach success if you don’t know what it looks like.

Aimless, purpose-less society members have no core values, no beliefs. They lack drive and inspiration and, as such, they are susceptible and prone to mass manipulation. In my opinion, this is one of the main motives behind the success of the global wave of populism that plagued us in 2016.

The path to success

Our individual perception of success is completely subjective and unique, and there is no magic formula. Talent alone is not enough — opportunity, hard work, timing and luck all play in. Much like joy, it must not be seen as a destination, but rather as a state of mind, an attitude.

But I do believe there is one prerequisite that must be fulfilled for the possibility of success to exist. A requirement for any victorious endeavour. And one which we can take a proactive and conscious approach towards fulfilling.

Successful people share one common denominator - the motive behind their actions resonates deep within them. Passion becomes their fuel to get them through the hard times, through all the doubts and setbacks, through 10,000 hours of work - it keeps them going, spreading their inspiration along the way.

Our current society promotes dogmatic values. Most of our lives are guided by the results of other people’s thinking, and not by our own rationale. As a result we are fulfilling other people’s dreams, not ours. This kills inspiration, making us less proactive and ultimately unhappy. It’s a vicious circle aggravated by our environment, of which we are slowly becoming victims.

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle…
- Steve Jobs

Ask yourself — Why do you do what you do? If the answer doesn’t elicit an emotional response, if you can only think of money, fame, or proving to others, then it’s time to reconsider.

Success is a journey, not a destination. But one we can only embark on if we do what we love. And it starts by making a conscious decision to stop comparing ourselves to others, to define our own aim and purpose and consciously strive towards it. The rest will come.

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