What is success? Is it making a comfortable living? Is it leaving an impact on your peers? Or, maybe, getting rich and getting rich fast? Whatever definition you create, we can all agree that success is usually the goal. It’s what we work for in both our personal and professional lives. So, how does one become their version of success? Although there is no perfect, fool-proof recipe, identified below are what I have found to be my secrets to success.
Discipline your desires and discipline your actions, and inevitably, you will be successful. It’s not the grand vision which will bring success nor is it letting you simply achieve what you want. It’s the daily work, the small things in endless succession. If you just “do things,” with a bit of luck and intelligence, you will achieve what you want within reason. However, if you do things systematically, you will achieve more than you ever wanted, more than you ever thought possible. You will have disciplined yourself.
Moderation in everything
Everything in moderation is hardly a new concept. The Greeks and Romans talked about moderation. Aristotle recognized the middle to be the safest route. Do not do anything to excess, but at the same time, do not feel that you are free to avoid doing something. It’s not reasonable to work to excess, even to succeed to excess. A moderate amount lets you enjoy the moment and its benefits, without forcing you to give up the pattern of your life to achieve your goals.
Modesty and humility
The world is not about you. Despite the fact that you live within yourself and cannot possibly know the true inside of another, the world does not revolve around your needs. Yes, you are the most important person to yourself. But, with so many “you’s,” and if each person were to demand a separate set of values, nothing could proceed. So run after modesty. Make humility a constant companion.
Courage, not foolhardiness
What is courage, really? It could be the momentary bravery shown in war, during the height of a pitched battle. Soldiers win medals for that. And, all too often, and so sadly, they die for their bravery. But we’re not talking about the war. We’re rather talking of a different type of courage: the courage to keep to your vision, to confront the opposition, and to not give up. It’s easy to stop when you are challenged, and the challenger is clearly in the wrong. It’s easy to yield to the group, abandon what you think is right. But in the end, you will lose the very essence of yourself. Now, as for foolhardiness, it’s also not particularly wise to maintain a position that you, yourself, have come to realize is wrong. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.”
So, be courageous, not foolhardy, sticking mightily to what you believe to be right, yet ready always to change if that right proves to be a mistake. In doing so, you will have the wisdom of courage and the blessing of honesty.
Taking stock of yourself
“When all is said and done, know thyself.” Socrates, through the tongue and pen of his student Plato, would say this again and again, teaching us that the greatest goal we might entertain is to know ourselves. That voyage within, where we pull from our depths that which is the essence of our soul, is the one voyage worth taking. So, learn about yourself with the same assiduousness that you master the subjects of arts and sciences. You are also a worthy subject of study, especially in the years when you form yourself.
And yet, as you learn about yourself, you must be ready to change. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “We have to be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned to have the life that is waiting for us.”
When honestly and respectfully taken, that voyage and its return makes us ready to be ourselves, ready to stand by what we believe, ready to entertain success with moral probity, and ready with character that will stand us for a lifetime.
Instead of letting the idea of success be the driving force behind your life, allow your actions and decisions to be at the forefront. Invest in yourself, be adaptable, stay accountable, and challenge yourself. Success is the accumulation of small steps which lead to great things.