I was delighted to be a guest on the ‘Stories of Success’ podcast recently, where I and Volker Ballueder discussed a range of topics, including coaching, people development and the nature of success.
The latter was most interesting to me, as I frequently see the pursuit of ‘success’ coming up as a topic in coaching contexts. A relentless chasing of an ephemeral future state of happiness can leave a person exhausted and frustrated, sometimes taking this out on the people around them.
In the podcast, I argue that a constant focus on “I’ll be successful when…” means we’re constantly living in the future and failing to pay attention to the here and now. We can therefore miss valuable information and feedback, can feel disconnected from our present moment and may remain unaware of the impact of our behaviour on ourselves and others.
My view is this: there’s no single recipe for success. Surely if there was, we’d all be putting it into practice! Success is subjective and individual, so it’s something we need to work out for ourselves. Comparisons to the ‘success’ of the rich and famous will obviously leave us feeling inadequate.
Similarly, ‘success’ can often be viewed as some kind of binary evaluation: either you’re successful or you’re not. But we’re so much more complex than this kind of simplistic summary. Forgetting that can leave us feeling very unfulfilled.
An alternative perspective?
If you’re passionate about making a success of your career, your relationships or your new passion project, here are some thoughts to bear in mind:
- Be clear about the goals you’re working towards. This can help you be specific about what a successful end point looks like.
- Set some interim goals to gauge your progress. This can also help you avoid binary self-evaluations (e.g. “I’m not successful…yet”)
- Explore your perceptions of success across the various roles you occupy in life and how well you’re focusing on them and giving them the time and attention they deserve. This too can help you avoid over-simplistic self-evaluations.
- Remember to maintain a focus on the present too, not just the future. Goal-setting is great, but so is appreciation of the here and now and acknowledging the small wins along the way.
The bottom line: if you spend your time comparing yourself to Jeff Bezos, you’re not going to feel great. But setting some realistic goals, acknowledging successes along the way and understanding how to appreciate the here and now can all help keep your focus on success sustainable and more fulfilling.
You can check out the full interview on ‘Stories of Success’ below. Thanks again to Volker for the kind introduction to appear on his show.