I’m not successful, but I have found success everyday.
When I was in school, teachers used to tell me what success looked like. A high paying job, a house, a family. The stereotypes of a perfect Australian life were tossed around like wet washing on a clothes line. They hung over me and, when the wind blew right, would drip on me. But success is so much more than financial success and a perfect relationship. Success is found internally and has all sorts of ranges.
From your personal relationships to the progress within your working life, all of these have varying levels of success. The key here is to work out what they are. At what point do you, personally, put a finger on it and say ‘yeah, this is success’. I can’t tell you. If I’m being honest I fail at a lot of things both personally and professionally more then I care to admit, and am likely not qualified to tell you how to find it. But I will share with you how I got through those failures to find varying forms of success and how I used them to continue growing.
You should note a few times in your life where you really felt like you owned and delivered on something. Doesn’t have to be work related, although those are often the easiest tasks to pop into a box of ‘completed’ or ‘win’. Now if you have anything in those boxes then according to the Oxford Dictionaries definition of success, you have been successful. It’s that simple. We get caught up on ‘finding success’ that we forget what it actually is. Teachers, mentors and family members drive the thought that finding success is some grand notion of completing your life goals. But completing something, anything, is success.
So great, you have success in your life. That was easy. But what do you do with it? How do you use it to drive you forward to find greater success, or the big one – happiness?
For me, this was easy. I am naturally critical of the work I do. Especially once it’s done. One of the first things I’ll do is try and come up with ways that I could have done it better or quicker. These questions lead to points of development or growth and the cycle continues. This doesn’t mean I did it wrong or bad the first time (although it can) it means that there is always room for improvement. Sometimes that improvement doesn’t even directly affect you.
Once you recognise the places for growth, then you start the process of learning. Maybe you spoke to someone more harshly or in a way that could be interpreted that way. Concede, that from an external perspective, it could have been perceived differently to your intention. Then be more aware the next time you interact with that person or read a book about adjusting your communication style to suit different types of people. If you can see room for improvement it doesn’t mean you are failing at that task. It just means you need to grow, learn and evolve to find greater success with it. Ultimately, finding happiness after succeeding in the completion of your goals will provide the stepping stones to greater success, greater goals and greater happiness.
Once you have even the smallest amount of success you need to share it. I am the absolute worst at this, especially in my professional career. An old team leader told me that was one of my largest development points. He told me to shout my success from the rooftops because he can’t do it for me. Once you start you’ll notice more opportunity and more feedback to grow from and that’s just as important as being successful. Without a constant loop of feedback, growth and success/failure I would never have gotten where I have.
Constructive feedback or criticism is hard to swallow. You must identify what feedback styles you respond to best and which ones just plain rile you up. Then adjust to them – not everyone will tell you areas for development in your preferred way and that can be jarring. Now you’re probably thinking, well they haven’t delivered it right. If they are your leader or mentor then probably not. Part of a leader’s role is to identify the best ways to effectively communicate to you. But leaders and mentors aren’t going to be the only ones giving you feedback, and many of those people will barely know you in a professional environment. So take it on the chin (unless it’s overtly offensive of course) and see the cycle for what it is, then you’ll likely yearn for feedback. It will be become the raw material you need to grow and direct your energy for improvement.
I’ll be honest, I am terrible at giving feedback. I have only ever mastered one way, my way, and that’s something I need to work on! Thanks again for reading, I hope you find value in this. If you missed part 2 check it out here – From rags to happiness