Chasing Success

It is natural for everyone to want to be successful. Success can be about making a lot of money, climbing the corporate ladder, buying your dream house or marrying your high school sweetheart. 

Even though our definition of success may vary, it seems like we are all learning from the same source. Others' success stories and traits of successful people are the usual suspects. 

Since everyone's aspiration is different shouldn't we all seek our own way? There are definitely lessons to be learned from successful people but unless your life is absolutely identical to theirs, those can only serve as a guide for us. There's no silver bullet.  

And what about happiness? Most people think that success equal happiness. Earning lots of money would make them happy. Getting that promotion would make them happy. 

I personally think there's more to life than being successful. It's about living the life you truly want. Yes, money and career might be part of it but they can't be all of it. 

If you have been chasing success all this while, maybe it's time to chase happiness instead. In fact, figuring what actually makes you happy is worth the effort. 

How do you define success?

When we were a baby, success was the moment you took your first step by yourself. Then in school, kids that scored higher and ran faster were the successful ones. And if you somehow made it through all that, you enter a world where you are judged by the position written on your card and how much money you make. As we get older and older, the bar we set for success goes higher and higher. This is only natural because as we age, we are able to perform task that are more sophisticated and complex.

The result is that some of us are paralyzed by the high expectations required to succeed. Compounded with the fact that it is harder to get noticed in this era of social media, many unsurprisingly decided that success is reserved to the talented and elite.

The solution to this, I believe is to redefine what success means. Success isn't just those life-changing breakthroughs or grand accomplishments. Those baby steps you take towards your goal are successes too.

You have to envision that the path to success is like a staircase and each step you climb is in itself a victory. Success is built-on other smaller successes. This means that you can accumulate these victories and slowly make your way up towards your goal.

The reason we do this is to harness the momentum and feedback we get from each step. We are hard-wired to expect results from our actions. So by breaking down your goal into smaller more achievable bits, you get constant feedback that you are heading the right way.

Success is something you want to do again. Failure is something you don't. - Jason Fried (37signals)

So as a reponse to John's post, my eureka moment was when I realized success also comes in bite-sized form. Remember to celebrate every small victory and let the momentum of succeeding get you up the stairs.

Get started NOW!

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the reason for success lies in the accumulation of experience and practice on a specific task. He said in order to be good and successful at something, you need to spend around 10,000 hours doing it. In one of his research, he discovered a disproportionate number of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year. (e.g. January to April) The reason for this was since the hockey leagues determine eligibility by the calendar year, someone that is born in the beginning of the year will be bigger compared to someone born in December. This is often enough to identify the children as better athletes and once they get into training camp, they get an head-start in accumulating practices and experience. Gladwell refer to this as the accumulated advantage.

If he is right and if practice does in fact leads to perfection, shouldn't you get started on what you always wanted to do and be good at? We don't get to decide which month are we born in but we can decide when we start practicing. The best day to start was yesterday but starting today is definitely better than tomorrow.

Choke and Clutch

Picture the final game between 2 top ranked badminton players. (or whatever sports you are familiar with) One of them is leading far ahead and seems to have the championship trophy within reach. All of a sudden, he start to lose his cool and begin missing shots that he been delivering perfectly all night. At the end of the game, he seems to be reduced to nothing more than an average player. In sports term, he choked. Choking is attributed to anxiety and failure to perform under pressure. There are however players that excel in high pressure situation and have the ability to turn things around. As you might have guessed, these are clutch players. Clutch refers to the superior play executed by the player under high pressure which dramatically effect the outcome of the game.

In a high pressure situation, do you clutch and rise to the occasion or do you choke and crumble into failure?