Keys to Success

This must be rapid because E could wake up at any moment, but I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the attributes that make someone a successful person.

Who do I perceive to be successful?  I’d say that I consider most of my friends to be highly successful people, that is, they are accomplished in some area and continue to learn and challenge themselves all the time.  They delve into new or unfamiliar territory despite fear or reservation, and they are content with who they are and what they are doing in this life.  They don’t linger too much in the past or meditate too deeply on the future. They enjoy the moment, and have enough perspective to not sweat the small stuff.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I feel like I have the CAPACITY to be very successful, but for one reason or another, I have fallen flat.  So what do I see as the primary attributes that contribute to being successful, and what do I need to do to get there?

1.  Perspective.  Don’t worry about things you can can’t change.  Especially—- don’t get consumed with very minor issues.  I have trouble with this sometimes, which may simply reflect my personality, but either way, I need to get better at this.  I’m better at this than I was at 24, but now at 34, I expect to be a bit further along than I am.

2.  Be a good listener.  I feel like I am actually pretty good at this.  If you aren’t listening, you aren’t learning, and you can’t fluidly respond to those around you.  And you also can’t expect anyone to listen to you, if you aren’t listening to them.

3.  Communicate accurately and honestly.  And when you’ve done your listening, you can then open your mouth and say what’s on your mind.  But do this gingerly, taking into account how your words affect others.  And be honest.

4.  Don’t worry about what others are doing or thinking.  This actually is not at odds with being a good listener.  It has more to do with avoiding unnecessary and useless comparisons between yourself and others—the kind of judging that only serves to make you feel like crap.  Just don’t do it.  You’ll feel better.

5.  Help others when you can.  You don’t have to change the world, but if you put yourself out there and do something for others, it helps them, it helps you, and everyone wins.  Instead of always having your hand out, know that you can mentor and guide other people, too.

6.  Surround yourself with curious people.  Do you like to have conversations with people who are interested in the world?  Me too.

7.  Take risks, ask questions.  You risk nothing, you get nothing.  You go nowhere.

8.  Be ready for anything.  Don’t plan too far in advance.  You don’t know what life has in store.  Be flexible.  Be open.

9.  Try new things.  Why not?

10.  Know your own limitations.  Know what you don’t know.  And be OK with holes in your knowledge, thinking, and skill set.  We all have areas where we can improve.  Isn’t it enough to know that we have them?  Let’s not berate ourselves over it, too.

So where I am doing awesome?   I am a good listener, a good communicator, I am getting better at helping others, I surround myself with curious people, I am getting better at asking questions, and I have done a lot of work to honestly assess my own limitations.

Where do I fall flat?  I sometimes sweat the small stuff or things that I can’t change, I make unnecessary comparisons, I don’t take as many risks as I should (I often talk myself out of doing things for any number of trivial reasons), I’m not always flexible for changes in plans, I don’t always try new things, and although I am learning more each day about my limitations, I’m not always good with non-judgmental acceptance of them.

So there I have it—-the things I can work on to get where I want to be.  What is *your* definition of success?

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