“Success is choosing, developing, and achieving personal goals and accomplishments in a balanced, ethical manner.”
This definition of success comes from our sales program, Pure Selling. It goes on to say that “Success is developing…” In other words, success is not a destination but a journey. It is the process of growing, changing, morphing and renewing.
Your personal definition of success develops in ways that are predictable, yet chaotic and creative. When you leave school, your definition might include getting a job, buying a car, renting an apartment, and purchasing real furniture. In the next stage, you may concentrate on finding a spouse, acquiring a better job, buying a house, and raising children. This is the traditional, predictable development that takes place. Many people go through their whole lives living this script and it works for them.
The chaotic aspect of development is a path over which we have less control, but that adds spice and interest to what could otherwise become a plodding, mind-numbing existence. We may be born with a predisposition or strength to do some things especially well. Throughout our lives, things happen that we can’t predict. A chance meeting with a mentor who takes us under his/her wing can accelerate our development. An accident or illness can have a profound effect on our ability to perform our regular job. These random events provide the opportunity for us to think outside the common box that society prescribes as a “normal” life.
The creative side of development also emerges from the Pure Selling definition of success. Developing your own success is about making choices. Consider that when confronted with random events, each person still has a creative choice to make. “Do I isolate and leverage my inborn strengths or downplay them so I don’t seem abnormal or pretentious? Do I pursue a relationship with that mentor or not? Do I take this mentor’s advice or dismiss it as unrealistic? Do I let my illness minimize my life or do I find alternate, if uncommon ways to succeed?”
When we throw these three ingredients – predictable, chaotic and creative – into the soup of life, the results produce an interesting flavour that is unique. We each have a greater capacity to choose how we use these ingredients than we often give ourselves credit for. We are socialized from the time we are born to follow the traditional life pattern, yet most significant accomplishments are achieved by those who choose to go against the grain. Richard Worzell in his book, The Next 20 Years of Your Life, predicts that the future holds both less security, and more opportunity. The traditional, predictable life is being challenged on many fronts, and we have to make choices that reflect today’s reality rather than a traditional view of personal success.
While there are some factors in our lives that we cannot change – our genetic disposition, our families, our histories – we can capitalize on some of life’s random events. When you stumble across a prospective mentor or great client, consider who put you in just the right place at the right time. You did. If you hadn’t attended that conference or training program, if you hadn’t made that cold call, or if you hadn’t attended that networking event, you would not have created that chance meeting. Many of the unexpected events in our lives happen because of choices we make – good or bad.
The real opportunity lies in the creative side of developing – in choosing. Challenge traditional assumptions about how your life should develop. Take time to reflect on your strengths and unique abilities and ask yourself: “If I could do, be or become anything I wanted, what would that look like? If I had no traditional expectations or pressures foisted upon me and could start fresh, what would I change? If I could reinvent the person I am into the person I want to be, how would I start?” Consider the “chance” events in your life and ask yourself: “How can I leverage the past events in my life to take advantage of what I’ve learned, to build on relationships that are positive, to accentuate my strengths, to minimize the impact of my weaknesses, to work smarter not harder, to develop into the most successful person I can become?”
Development is a choice. What you were born with is the past. What’s happened to you to this point in time is also past. The creative choices you make today with a vision of who you could be, will determine your future.