What does it really mean to be successful? Amazingly, that definition is different for everyone. To some, success is having a pile of money and a big house. To others, success is finding a loving partner and creating a family. Even more interesting are the people who have or the other and still feel unsuccessful.
Journalist Christopher Morley defined success best when he wrote, “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” One cannot be successful without being organized, prepared, or well-educated. Likewise, success cannot be attained unless you know how to take initiative, negotiate and network. Generally, success does not come to those who have low self-confidence or negative attitude. Therefore, developing successful habits is the accomplishment from which all other successes flow. In the book of Jerry Porras, “Success Built to Last,” the real definition of success is a life and work that brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a difference in the world they live.
True success begins with a state of mind. But it takes specific actions and behaviors to move from intentions into action and get results. Although success can easily be defined as the achievement of goals, there’s a difference between temporary and lasting success. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met who have been very successful in the pursuit of wealth, but late in the day began to sense that they didn’t really succeed. As aptly said by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Wealth, fame and power are not actually goals or success for some people. Money and recognition are external factors – they are outcomes of passionately working often on an entirely different objective that is often a personal cause or calling, such as that person chose a way of life that embodied his passions, making a difference to him and the world. He eventually enjoys many of the traditional measures of success, too, such as becoming wealthy, but these measures weren’t his focus.
Here is one meaning of success by best-selling author, Brian Tracy, he wrote that:
“Success is goals and all else is commentary. This is the great discovery throughout all of human history. Your life only begins to become a great life when you clearly identify what it is that you want, make a plan to achieve it and then work on that plan every single day. “The primary reason for failure is that people do not develop new plans to replace those plans that didn’t work.” (Napoleon Hill)
The three turning points in my life were these: First, I discovered that I was responsible for my life, and for everything that happened to me. I learned that this life is not a rehearsal for something else. This is the real thing. In every study of successful people, the acceptance of personal responsibility seems to be the starting point. Before that, nothing happens. After you accept complete responsibility, your whole life begins to change. The second turning point for me, which came when I was 24 years old, was my discovery of goals. Without really knowing what I was doing, I sat down and made a list of 10 things I wanted to accomplish in the foreseeable future. I promptly lost the list. But 30 days later, my whole life had changed. Almost every goal on my list had already been achieved or partially achieved. The third turning point in my life came when I discovered that “You can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal you can set for yourself.” No one is smarter than you and no one is better than you. All business skills, sales skills and moneymaking skills are learnable. Everyone who is good in any area today was once poor in that area. The top people in every field were at one time not even in that field and didn’t even know that field existed. And what hundreds of thousands of other people have done, you can do as well.”
Becoming a highly successful person is a long-term goal that will take time, patience, and discipline. However, too many people at some point in their lives set goals and go on to achieve them, often brilliantly, only to find that they are disappointed, empty, and unhappy. To avoid this, be careful what you wish for. When achievement for you comes without meaning, then it doesn’t last. A lasting success has three essential elements according to Jerry Porras, in his book, “Success Built to Last, Creating a Life that Matters.” These are:
- Meaning. What you do must matter deeply to you in way that you as an individual define meaning. It’s something that you’re so passionate about that you lose all track of time when you do it.
- ThoughtStyle. A highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion, and responsible optimism.
- ActionStyle. Enduringly successful people find effective ways to take action. Most people had a clear sense of meaning for their success, but found it almost impossible to make things happen – to turn meaning and thought into action. So get moving and get on with what you really care about doing.
In our journey toward success that last, we discovered that the above elements, when you have them in alignment, form the foundation on which you build and sustain the experience of success. Become consciously aware of what matters to you and then rally your thought and action to support your definition of meaning. That is what Jerry Porras calls alignment.