Are you a Success?

Isn’t that an interesting question! Of course, that question begs another one; if you’re not a success then are you a failure? 

Have you ever considered exactly what it is that makes someone a failure? When do they cross the line from “struggling” to actually being a true failure? 

There are a lot of easy answers to that question. I see the easy answers to that question in motivational quotes all over the web, some of the quotes even come from me. Wherever they come from they all have the same “theme,” – “you only really fail when you fail to try again.”

I suppose that must be true, it’s said by so many, so often, that it must be true. Right?

Well what if it’s not true? 

Maybe in fact, it’s okay to not try again. Maybe the “never give up” and “never quit” mantras expressed so often are the very thing that leads people to believe they are failures. 

I believe that nothing is impossible but I know for a fact that some things are impossible for me. I could try forever and still never be able to dunk a basketball. I could live to be a thousand and never throw a perfect game in baseball. I know those are kind of over the top examples but sometimes we just have to know our limitations. 

Let’s be clear on this, not knowing our limitations is not what really leads to failure. What really leads to failure is not knowing our strengths. When we don’t know our strengths we potentially keep “trying” to succeed at things outside our strength zones. When we do that long enough and often enough we start to think of ourselves as failures. 

We’re not of course, we’re just applying ourselves in the wrong way, to the wrong things. It’s hard to say definitively that applying your energies to areas of your life that are not your strengths will lead to failure but this much does seem certain: it will not lead to success.

So, back to the original question; are you a success?  

That’s really a very personal question and one that you can only answer for yourself. Success means different things for different people and it’s a mistake to let anyone else define success for you. There are certainly some “societal norms” which come into play; there are ethics involved as well. You can cheat to come in first but you cannot cheat and be a success. If your mom wouldn’t be proud of your “success” it probably doesn’t fit the concept of success as society defines it.

Your success will clearly be determined by what you do, everyone understands that. But… your success may also be determined by what you don’t do. Perhaps by what you quit! 

The moment that you  determine you’re expending efforts into an area of your life where you cannot succeed then the successful thing to do is quit. Don’t let others goad you into “pushing on,” they may well be trying to apply their definition of success to your life.   

So let go of the guilt of quitting. Make sure you don’t quit too early, success will certainly come with challenges but also be certain you don’t quit too late. 

Knowing your true strengths will help you know when to keep pushing and maybe when to not even begin!

6 thoughts on “Are you a Success?

  1. Good perspective. Taking a a realistic look at ourselves and our potential is the best way to go. Granted, you may never dunk a basketball, but you should still reach for the stars in the areas in which you can excel. Most of us will never reach our full potential. Maybe our focus isn’t right, as you have alluded to. Or perhaps, we are short changing ourselves. “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, at least your amongst the stars!”

  2. The title for the movie “White Men Can’t Jump?” was based on my jumping ability. Or lack thereof.

    I’m 6’5″ and I’ve never been able to dunk the pill.

    No matter what I do, I was born with zero ups. Nada.

    Knowing this early on, I learned how to box out competitors in the paint to get my rebounds.

    Since I couldn’t dunk, I learned to shoot left handed, to have another tool in my arsenal.

    I focused on being a feared defender.

    On the other hand, I never thought I was a great writer. In fact, a professional writer on Twitter said I wrote like a 5th grader. She loved my content. Advice was “work on your mechanics.”

    I put off writing a blog for years. Last week, I wrote my 100th post in as many weeks.

    I don’t know how much longer I’ll write. I will say my writing has steadily improved over the last 100 weeks.

    I’ll never be a Stephen King. Though every now and then, I’ll write something that’s brilliant. It doesn’t happen often. But when it does, I feel great.

    In the end, the individual needs to make the choice of where to improve.

    • Ha, I was actually thinking of Woody when I said I would never be able to dunk. The truth is I COULD DUNK if I really wanted to… I figure my tenacity and a 6 foot ladder and BOOM I did it!

      Your point as always is spot on. WE do need to choose for ourselves where we will improve. It’s pretty tough to be committed to goals and objectives “forced” on us by others.

  3. Vince Fowler says:

    Great (and quite timely) post. I’m grateful to Bob Burg for sharing it on twitter. Gratitude Steve, I look forward to reading more.

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