There are usually 2 situations where you will have a conversation about success in life: When you are measuring others or when you have a mid life crisis.
In all other situations, the topic of whether you are successful are usually not that important given how busy life is.
During Chinese New Year, I met up with my old friend.
He just quit his job, where he stayed for a long time (10 years maybe). The job took a toll on morale, physical well being and having a break was good, if you are like him that can bump around. Even if you are not a great wealth builder, knowing a few age old wealth building rules of thumb won’t get you too off course from the true north to wealth success.
He remarked that at 36 years old, we are perhaps at the halfway point of our lives, which is true if you consider we will only live until 72 years old.
Chinese New Year offers us a pause to think about such things.
I asked about how he can be considered “successful” in life.
His answer is to be a good provider to the family and that would be a success.
But I can sense that there was unhappiness about something in life.
Here is why I find it odd: Should a person be unhappy be considered successful?
The Perceived Success: Money and Status
What I often hear about whether some one have made it in life are often to do with having built good wealth and to obtain money, power and status symbols.
And this is often relative.
Your mum will think you are a success when you got a good education, got a great job, is able to support yourself, your family and your parents, and still manage to have much money monthly left over.
Certainly, if you drive an Audi while most of your peers take public transport or Japanese 1.4-1.6 litre cars, you are seen as an outright success.
So if I turn this around and give you the most obnoxious person you have met, most likely the show off in your company. If I give him $2 million dollars and ask you if he is a successful person, what would your answer be?
What I believe makes a Successful Person
I doubt that you will consider that obnoxious person to be success. I wouldn’t either.
Being successful is measuring a person and if you do not like to have a conversation about measuring people, this article is probably not for you.
I heard this from someone that I thought made a lot of sense and really resonate with me.
To be successful:
- You need to deliver value to others or be a servant to others well
- You need to be happy
When you deliver value, you are improving some other people, or an organizations well being. If you offer a lot of value compared to your peers, you are great performer.
If you do not get remunerated well in that company, you will eventually make yourself too difficult to ignore and get poach by a manager who recognize your value, or you will out grow your current company to another that pays you well for your ability to deliver that value.
If you deliver a lot of value as a solo entrepreneur, the money will come along.
If you deliver a lot of value and be a great servant to your family, your friends and colleagues, you will be well liked.
But if you are so good at helping others, yet you suffer from unhappiness as a person, I don’t think you are successful.
Happiness is Reality minus Expectations.
A person that understands that well finds a great balance between being a great servant and being at peace with oneself.
Only when a person achieves both will I deemed him or her a success.
Entrepreneurs and their depression
Perhaps a group of people that many looked up to was the entrepreneurs who started their own companies. These group of people deliver value and probably should be what we termed successful.
Certainly more so then the average 9 to 5 workers like me.
Yet there are growing reports that these entrepreneurs are likely to suffer from depression.
The expectations they heaped on themselves or by others could have affected their happiness level in a more extreme way if the person is far from competent.
I find it difficult to justify this to be successful.
Work on being More Happy as an Individual to be considered Successful
For the average person, being successful means to understand how much value you are delivering at work, at home or in various context. If you are not successful enough, it is likely you are not delivering enough value.
If you are at a work scope where value is very distinct and limited, perhaps you have to venture out and find other ways to deliver value, perhaps a side job.
If you deliver enough, you might become more successful.
However, to be successful is also to be conscious about happiness, and has got to do a lot with appreciating what is the real reality and your expectations.
This is extremely crucial when delivering value because you are always setting yourself higher expectations so that you deliver more value, yet this according to the happiness equation might make you unhappy.
Be aware of the interaction between these factors and at times pull back to see just how much you have accomplished, the value you have provided, the customer service you delivered to the peers around you.
This will let the satisfaction and contentment catch up with the good work that you have done up till now.