In this essay, I am writing about my theory of success and how I will achieve it. My definition of success, includes four areas: 1) Personal learning and development, 2) Financial freedom and autonomy, 3) Fully utilise my unique combination of skills and talents, and 4) Family fulfilment and serving the community. These four areas can be achieved via having a growth mindset, investment, increasing adversity quotient and improving human relationships.
I am not going to write about the secret to success, because I believe there are no secrets. Different people have their definitions of success and it is not something you can search and find. And there are no foolproof techniques to achieve success, instead, it requires self-reflection, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
Firstly, success means personal learning and development. I think successful people are always learning. They fall, get right back up and try again. They fail fast. They adapt. They improve. The process repeats and leads to success. Even if I fail, it’s still better than others who are not taking any actions and remain in the same step in their comfort zone.
It requires a growth mindset to accept my failure, and then recognize my faults and weaknesses, and then take action to improve. When I am improving internally, at the same time, the external environment would change as well, helping me to become more mature and build up more confidence. If somebody never thinks they have any problems, and never makes mistakes, then he would never improve himself and therefore continue to fail. Even if he is lucky to achieve something, the success level is limited. Remember, life is a continuous learning and improvement journey. Success could be unlimited. Until today, I still require myself to make progress, hoping to get a step closer towards success.
Secondly, success means financial independence and autonomy. Money is not equal to happiness, but a lack of money would lead to unhappiness. It is a trap to base my success on wealth and achievements. This is because it is human nature that we would never get satisfied. When I compare myself with others, there will always be people who are in a relatively better position than me. Even when I get rich, someone will be richer than me, and it feels miserable if I keep comparing myself with others.
Instead of wealth, the more sustainable achievements are financial security and financial freedom. It means I delay satisfaction now and invest in the future. Besides, let’s not define success as happiness. This is because momentary happiness with a positive mood is not sustainable, good days and bad days tend to average out over time. Our genetics set the baseline of happiness level and mood does not define success. Our evaluations are always relative to expectations and I tend to overweight peaks and ends as my current mood triggers selective memory. Hedonism and consumerism do not lead to happiness or success. Greater happiness comes from achieving goals requiring sacrifice, risk, uncertainty and effort.
Thirdly, success means I fully utilise my unique combination of skills and talents. It feels like a waste of life and resources if my full potential is not fully achieved. The willingness to be dissatisfied causes new actions to be conceived. Recognize dissatisfaction and use it as a source of motivation.
It takes effort to work towards my professional goals and adversary quotient to overcome all the difficulties. It is possible to have a sweet spot between happiness and work. Work that others will pay me for doing, work that ignites me emotionally and works that uses my unique talents and strengths together. My professional life and personal life could be integrated.
Lastly, success means family fulfilment and serving the community. Thinking about success on my terms, helps me remember what is important. Success is not a ladder I climb. Success is not a racing competition I win. It is a measure of the positive influence my life has had on others. And achieve success, requires me to improve my social skills to lead and influence others.
If I had bad interpersonal skills, then I would be feeling isolated, and never reach my peak performance. Therefore, to be successful in doing anything, I have to re-examine my relationship with others. If it’s not ideal, then think about how to improve and take actions to fix it. Social interaction is one of the higher-risk activities, because as soon as we fail, we would feel lonely, and not able to find a position to fit in. However, the world is large. As long as I am willing to try, everyone would be able to find a role that fits in and contribute to the community.
Even though my personality trait is introverted and shy to interact with strangers, whenever I think I should talk to people but feel fear, the only thing I should do is stand in front of others and speak. Even though I may not speak fluently, even though I may look foolish, I achieve one important thing, which is practice. Shy people wish to be good at social interactions without trying, but it’s trying and practice becomes the path to having good social skills. What I think I know about happiness includes what matters most: spending time with people I love who love me. More happiness comes from experiences, especially shared ones than from material things.
Overall, my view of success changes as I am getting older. My life would be more satisfying if I care less about results, but focused more on the process of learning. Care less about buying material things, but focus more on the investment for the future. Care less about achievement in professional life, but focus more on developing my full potential. Care less about what other strangers think about me, but focus more on who I want to become for my family and the community. Care less about failure, but focus more on success.