GET REAL: Be clear about success
SUCCESS IS ABOUT getting good, getting noticed, and getting appreciated. These three “gets” are fairly easy to get.
The fourth is a little trickier. Success is also about getting clear on what success means.
Whatever it is you do, you want to be a boss at it. You want to be so good at it, the competition is defeated before they start. You want to be Usain Bolt.
The other runners should feel like they will waste 10 seconds of their life running against you. You want the judges to feel like handing you the medal before the starting gun goes off because “dey done know you gun win anyhow.”
But not you. You need to be clear. Winning is never a foregone conclusion. Any time you feel you have it in your pocket, you are in danger of reaching for it and finding a hole. There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Make sure you see it clearly.
The 100-metre dash is simple. First past the line wins. Few events in life have such a clear cut winner. Most of the time, the best, the most successful, who is good and who is not, is a matter of opinion. How do you know you are good? What is your measuring stick? It is easy to think you are good when you are not, if you don’t have an objective standard. You may also not realise how good you are. Get clear about what getting good actually means and how to judge it. Know where you stand on the scale of greatness.
You can do a great job. You can be a boss at what you do. But what if no one knows? It’s good to be good, but many times, to benefit from your expertise someone needs to see. Once you get good, you need to find a way to let people know. Find out who needs to know what you can do and find ways to show them. A fancy name for this is marketing. It is an art in itself. Often the most “successful” is not the best, but the best at getting noticed.
But you want to be clear on who you want and need to notice you. Meat sellers don’t need to be noticed by vegetarians and flies don’t want to be noticed by spiders. You may be good, but good for whom?
You may be the best balancer of broomsticks on your middle finger the world has ever seen. People may clap at the feat when they see it.
The real test is how far they will go to see you do it again. You’ve perfected your broom balance. You’ve gotten loads of attention from a viral YouTube video. That attention must now turn into appreciation by some form of action. The most basic ways we show appreciation are with time and money.
People will not spend their time or money on you just because you are good. They have to feel you are good for them. You or what you offer must be of value. Broom balancing is very impressive, but I have no pressing need for it in my life right now, thank you.
Your job is not only to get good and get noticed. You now have to get someone to appreciate the value of what you have to offer. The value may be obvious if you’ve created something like the cure for cancer. However, many people have become wealthy by getting others to appreciate things of less obvious value.
Value is a tricky subject. People may spend more on entertainment than education. We may wear expensive clothes and eat junky cheap food. We may value something today and throw it away tomorrow. There is no telling what people will gravitate to.
This is why success starts with being clear on who you are, what you want and what you value. Get good at what you love for you. Notice and appreciate your own efforts. Share your gifts knowing that not everyone will or has to appreciate it.
Success with anything outside yourself is not in your control unless you control everything. You don’t. Even if you don’t fail, something or someone may fail you. Try to make sure you don’t fail yourself. Many people who are not considered successful are happy. Many who’ve ranked among the best, who have gotten noticed and are widely appreciated, have committed suicide.
Whether or not you are successful depends on your definition of success. You must define it for you. Success by someone else’s standard is not success. Success is not necessarily happiness unless happiness is success.
Adrian Green is a creator of valuable communications.