The Secret of My Success
I started thinking about something the other day while I was talking with a colleague. The conversation turned to the important characteristics that help create success. I thought it would make an interesting post, because in my case, those traits are laziness, procrastination, being different, and being a quitter.
Not quite the list you typically expect to see in a discussion about success. Now of course, perhaps I’m not actually a success. So let’s take a look at what we mean by success. To me, success means that someone can set and achieve their goals, that they can support themselves financially and do something to help others. To me the final piece is that they are doing some work on themselves to become a better human.
Others may define success as making a lot of money, or having a lot of responsibility in their job. Biology would actually define success as you having reproduced. The Oxford Dictionary gives three definitions for success: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; and a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.
I would say, as an absolutely biased judge that I’m generally a success. I have a good job, that has a lot of responsibility, financially I make significantly more than the national average. I set and achieve goals, see my last post. I do my best to help out my family and friends in a variety of ways and I write a blog related to helping people live happier lives. I’ve done a lot of work on myself over time, going from being kicked out of college and abusing alcohol and drugs while struggling with depression, to being a working professional who by the other factors leads a fairly successful and happy life. So by my reckoning I’m a success, but not perfectly, biologically I’m a failure because I don’t have children.
But let me return to the traits that I listed above, the secrets to my success:
I’m lazy, I am an incredibly lazy human. When people talk about how that can’t just go lay on a beach or by a pool and do nothing because they get bored I chuckle. I mean this sincerely, if I was fully supported financially, had 24 access to good food without effort I could lay in the shade by a pool or the ocean damn near indefinitely. Of course, I need to work, I need to earn money and so the whole laying by the pool thing is pretty much out the window. How this translates to my success is that because I’m lazy, I’m always looking for more efficient ways to get things done. This also tends to force me out of the trap we often get into of being tactical and focusing only on what needs to happen today, but gets me to step back and think strategically.
Procrastination is a success trait many of us share. You may have even thought that this was a detrimental trait your possess. Let me explain to you why you’ve got that backwards. You see when you procrastinate you automatically put yourself under time pressure. If you can successful produce a quality solution to an issue under time pressure what you have demonstrated is that you function well under pressure. So when you get a project that needs to be completed quickly, you have the skills to do it.
Being different is something that, as most of these do, really cuts both ways. Innovation is something that most business say they are very interested in. Someone who is different, who looks at things from a different angle can bring innovative ideas to the table. Of course there are always limits to how far out of the box you can comfortably be.
By far the most important to trait to my success is being a quitter. This is wholly antithetical to everything America supposedly stands for. When you think about quitting, often the first thing that comes to mind is that, “quitters never win.” In America it’s all about sticking to it, giving 110% and going to the bitter end. Those can be admirable traits, but I look at things a bit differently. If your view is limited to the singular thing you are doing never quitting makes perfect sense. However, if you take a longer view in terms of the limited time that we have on this Earth, then the perspective changes a bit. Unless there is a very good reason, why should you subject yourself to something that makes you miserable? Sure, going to the gym may not be particularly fun but if it helps keep you fit and healthy, you need to continue to exercise. Quitting exercise can have some serious negative consequences. But staying on a career path that makes you miserable, staying in an educational major or program that doesn’t suit you, or remaining in a relationship that is making your life less enjoyable and you less happy is worth quitting.
Growing up, the people around me worked jobs they really disliked. But they worked them to support their families, they weren’t educated, didn’t have many opportunities to get educated and so were locked into their careers. They stayed in these jobs because the jobs were good enough to support their families and had benefits. Which is why when I finally completed my Masters degree I promised myself I would never again work a job that made me unhappy. Quitting has many times led me to better opportunities and certainly to more happiness.
The true secret of my success though, at least in part, lies in my attitude. My willingness to take something like procrastination, laziness or quitting and draw on the potential positive aspects of these traits is a strength. Keeping a positive attitude, setting and achieving goals and understanding when it’s time to quit are all traits that can help you be successful in whatever you do and most importantly in your life and pursuit of happiness. As always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane