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Success and the void

March 13, 2013

There is in the world a lot of pontificating on what makes a successful person – how to be successful – who is more successful than whom. And so on.

I usually roll my eyes and move on. If pressed, I might mutter “Define success!”  Since I’ve been prompted to write thoughts on success, I will now, instead of muttering, trot out some trite nonsense pearls of wisdom of my own on the subject.

Most of these inspirational wossnames seem to me to miss a fundamental point, which is that success cannot exist in a vacuum. I don’t mean it doesn’t, I mean it can’t.  You have to be successful at something – you have to have something to measure up against to determine whether you have succeeded or failed. Benchmark, passmark, yardstick, goal. Whatever.  The point is you can’t measure success unless you have already defined what success looks like.

This isn’t just semantics.

Many of us are conditioned to think we know what success is. We don’t question the goals. We have internalised goals that other people have set. We have measured ourselves, and others, on a scale we’ve never really thought that much about. We’ve passed judgement on ourselves, and others, based on a definition of success that goes largely unchallenged.

From what I’ve seen of life, this approach doesn’t seem to make people happy.

What makes me happy, is when people reclaim the right to define their own success. Freely. Especially when the definition includes doilies. Or cats. Right now, my definition includes shifting the cat off my doily-in-progress without getting scratched. Wish me luck!

[TOMW]

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