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This Is Why Defining Success May Be a Bad Idea

by James Ssekamatte 10 months ago in success

And what you can do instead

This Is Why Defining Success May Be a Bad Idea
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

If you have responsibilities, chances are you have conditions you consider ideal. When running a business or company, success may mean anything. Whether it is a specific revenue figure, an IPO, or a rewarding exit.

Success seems to be the north star for a lot of people. Although it's different for everyone.

When I started my entrepreneurship journey more than 5 years ago, I had my one simple success ideal. To make so much money.

Over time, when the money came (and went), I began viewing success in a different light. It stopped being my north star and here is why.


The success illusion

Specific circumstances and events are a measure of success when reached. This is what society has made us believe.

"Get good grades in high school so that you can go to college and get a good job." - This is one of the most common ideals of several families across the world.

In business, people think you have "reached" when you have a significant event in your company. An IPO, a revenue figure, a promotion, and so on.

None of these are close to the truth of course. They mark a significant milestone in our efforts. They also rarely if ever represent a stage of holding hands and singing kumbaya into the sunset.

Quite the opposite actually. It is a point at which our lives or the market hands us more responsibility after a job well done.


Why defining success may be bad then

Defining success defeats the idea of a call to level up our contribution to society.

The reason you shouldn't define success is that the world is always moving. It requires more contribution and advances those who do so.

When still alive, you have to contribute to the development of your society. - Especially if you are still able-bodied rather than sitting on a beach somewhere.

I have a consultation office of banking retirees where I do help them with IT-related issues. I have spent time observing how some of them have deteriorated after retiring.

Some of these people were Governors, executive directors, directors. They were in charge of keeping our national economy stable. In retirement, many now decided not to work on anything for the community. They sit home and wait for their pension.

As a result, a lot developed issues with their health, some have died and many are despairing.

A few still look young and vibrant. It's those that retired from work but did not retire from making a contribution to society.

Success should not be something to achieve during some time in your lifetime. It should be only a sum total that shows up at the end of your life.

I am not saying that you shouldn't aim for success. By all means, do. If you want to buy a dream car, go ahead and do it. What I'm saying is that if you buy that car, do not stop pushing yourself to do more for yourself and other people.


What you should do instead

A lot of people make statements like, "I will be happy when …….. happens". This is the mindset you should drop.

Focus on how you can make a contribution to society more than you focus on your ideal number needed to retire.

Defining success will impose limits on your potential and hinder your further growth.

Keep pushing the limits of what is possible for humanity given what resources we have. Your health, wealth, love, and contribution will be better for it.

Focus on contribution and pushing the limits. Not achieving success in fulfilling materialistic desires. Those will come but you should keep contributing and pushing the limits.


James Ssekamatte

Engineer and artist sharing my perpective with the world.

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