What is Success?
As a teacher, every single day I ask parents the simplest and yet most profound question, “What do you want for your child?’ And while I speak to people from every social and cultural background, I invariably hear the same responses; ‘I want my child to be happy and successful’.
Despite the fact that we all have the best intentions, our nation is full of people who do not consider themselves to be happy or successful. Despite the recent economic recession the United States is still one of the richest nations in the world. We have money, education, and opportunity and yet we act as though success is a matter of luck reserved for those few people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. We view successful people as near god-like; we tell ourselves and then our children that these people had every opportunity; the best formal education, the perfect body, a large inheritance.
The interesting thing is that when you actually look at the history of those our society has considered to be successful what you notice is that hardly any of them fit into our idealized description of what it takes to become successful. Bill Gates dropped out of college, Michael Jordan was so uncoordinated that he failed to make his high school basketball team, and Albert Einstein could barely read, write, or add. For every person who has found success through ‘traditional methods’ there are 10 who created their success from virtually nothing. How is this possible?
How is it possible that people with Ivy League educations default on their mortgages just like everyone else? Why is it that some of the most successful people did not come from money nor complete their formal education? The problem lies in our understanding of what success is first, and then what actually leads to success second.
Talk to your friends and family, your children and parents. Ask a person that you trust completely how they imagine their dream life, a life of ultimate success, and they will undoubtedly give you a strange and shy look. Why? Well for two reasons, the first is that as a culture we spend so much time telling people to ‘live in the real world’ that you are ten times more likely to hear about why your dreams won’t work then you are to be told how important dreams or visions for the future are.
Your trusted friend is concerned that his or her dreams will sound outlandish or unreasonable to you, so they’re naturally shy to reveal what they have thought of. The second reason that your friend will be at a loss for words for your question is that they don’t actually know what their vision of true success is. Does that sound absurd to you? Look at yourself first, can you detail in 1000 words or less EXACTLY how you define success? When you are ultimately successful, what will you be doing on a daily basis; who will be in your life; what things will you have? No vagueness is allowed here. A fancy car is an unacceptable answer, list the year, make, model, and color.
After all, how can you possibly hope to be successful if you don’t know exactly what it means to you? No architect would consider building a house without an exact blueprint detailing where every single concrete block and timber will go. Where is your blueprint for success?
The first step is to understand that in order to achieve a goal; you must first have a clear understanding of what that goal is. The next step is to realize absolutely that none of the skills that you have learned in school will ever lead to success, nor will a great inheritance. People reach success from every background imaginable, and there are homeless from every background as well.
Whether its money, sports, science, or education, Top Achievers in the world have learned that success is based almost exclusively on specific thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Most people believe that success comes from skills in a particular field, for example being a fast runner or perhaps an expert computer programmer. But what we have learned is that success does NOT come from technical skill in a particular field but only from studying the sets of Success Skills themselves.
By learning and then embodying these Success thoughts, actions, and attitudes a person can accomplish their goals in life regardless of their current technical skill, knowledge, or position. In fact, we’ve learned that without these Success Skills even the very highest level of technical skill in a certain area will not be sufficient for success.
This article series will introduce your family to these Success Skills, and hopefully give you the motivation to develop these skills in the pursuit of your dreams for yourself and your famil