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Defining Success

By January 27, 2022No Comments

What does it mean to win in life? When do we get to confidently declare success? Many people go through life desiring some manner of success but never actually figure it out. The truth is that individual success is highly personalized. What constitutes success for one person may not be the same for another. There’s no universally established set of criteria that, once achieved, enables you to declare your life a success.

So maybe a better question is this: “How do I determine what success in life means to me?”

The bad news is that I can’t answer that question for you. Only you can. The good news is that I can show you a path to the answer. Use these waypoints to help guide you:

Waypoint #1: Find your purpose

Victor Frankl once stated, “If we have a clear ‘why’ to live, we can bear almost any ‘how’”. Spending many of his formative years in concentration camps, he began to notice who lived and who didn’t. One factor, he noted, was that those with a clear purpose tended to have a stronger will to survive. Having a clear purpose for our life has the power of pulling us through challenges, trials, and tests. It serves as a gravitational pull out of adversity and into the life we see ourselves living.

Success in life starts with having a purpose. And this purpose will differ from one person to another. During his time in the concentration camps, Frankl’s purpose may have merely been surviving so that his important story could be told. After liberation, his purpose grew.

What’s your purpose in life? Do you have a story to tell? An important cause to further? A specific mark you want left on the world?

Waypoint #2: Determine and prioritize your roles

Consider all of your important roles in life. This may include your role as a spouse, parent, professional, leader, team member, businessperson, tradesperson, and so on. Success in life means some degree of success in all of the roles you’ve determined are important.

Take time to prioritize your roles. That way, when life demands that you choose which role needs investment, you’re already equipped to make the choice. If success in a lower priority role comes at the expense of failure in a higher priority one, then you are not succeeding. Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Really successful people know where to focus their time and effort. More importantly, they know where not to invest them.

Have you determined your roles and prioritized them?

Waypoint #3: Allow your reach to exceed your grasp

At eighty years old, famed cellist Pablo Cassals was being interviewed by a young reporter. The reporter asked, “Mr. Cassals, you are the greatest cellist that has ever lived. Why do you still practice several hours each day?” Pablo Cassals responded casually, “because I think I am making progress.” Pablo Cassals’ ambitious goal of cello mastery inspired a relentless commitment to growth and improvement.

Perfection is unachievable, even for the best of us. That doesn’t mean we can’t ruthlessly strive to be that much better. As you work toward your purpose and fulfillment in your life’s roles, do so with the same determination as Pablo Cassals.

Have you established goals that will stretch you? Goals that might make you a little nervous while at the same time fill you with excitement and fervor?

Does your reach exceed your grasp? 

Waypoint #4: Embrace the journey

When I was 20 years old, I hiked up the Comox Glacier with a few of my friends. It was the first time I had ever done a three-day trek up a mountain. I have very vague memories of the summit. However, I do recall the nightly campfires, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and the bonds of friendship.

Destinations are important. They have a gravitational force that can pull us forward. However, take time to embrace the journey along the way. It’s where you’ll accumulate experiences, foster meaningful relationships, and learn life lessons. If you solely focus on your destination, you’ll end up missing so much of what life has to offer.

Are you embracing the journey?

Waypoint #5: Anticipate regrets

A few years ago, I was visiting an area just North of Yellowknife, NWT. One day, I had the opportunity to spend a night living with members of the local indigenous community there. It was -40 degrees celsius and I had a lot of work to catch up on. A part of me thought I should return to my hotel room. However, I reminded myself that I was being presented with an opportunity that I may never get again. In short, I knew that if I didn’t stay and spend the evening with these wonderful new friends, I’d forever regret it later in life. So I decided to stay. And I’m glad I did. I participated in some of the traditional songs and games, sampled new foods, and got a front-row seat to a spectacular viewing of the Aurora Borealis. That night is etched in my memory forever.

Next time you find yourself facing an important decision, try and imagine yourself in the future looking back on your decision. Will you be filled with regret or contentment?

What does it mean to win in life? When do we get to confidently declare success? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. However, using these waypoints can help you forge your own unique path to your unique version of success. Find your purpose, determine and prioritize your roles, allow your reach to exceed your grasp, embrace the journey, and anticipate regrets. These are lifelong commitments for a life filled with purpose.

If you want some help defining what success means to you, consider reaching out to Gasparotto Group and exploring our one-on-one coaching services.

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Written by Anthony Robb

Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.