There’s a difference between winning and being successful. From a young age we are conditioned to win and to be happy with winning or reaching our goals. Our team wins the game and we are expected to be elated. But as you go through life, winning alone can sometimes leave you feeling unfulfilled. With a little bit of self-reflection, you figure out that there has to be more to it than just winning.
Success is much more about the journey than it is about the outcome. Success is about reaching your full potential.
Definition of success
In his TED talk, John Wooden says he wanted to come up with his own definition of success, to help inspire his students. He wasn’t satisfied with the dictionary definition of “the attainment of wealth, favour or eminence” After some thought, Wooden came up with a much more holistic definition. He described success as “peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable”.
Wooden goes on to give three pearls of wisdom, much of which was instilled on him as a child but is as relevant in the playground as it is in the workplace. His guiding principles for anyone trying to conduct themselves in a moralistic way while navigating life are;
- Don’t try to be better than others
We have been taught to be the best, to focus on being better than others. If we want to get good grades in school we have to be better than our classmates. If we want to get into university we have to be better than others, if we want the job or promotion of our dreams we need to beat others to the finish line. Those of us who are driven in life are often hardwired to win and be better than everyone else. Successful people are not always those who win every time, but those who develop their own skills to their own personal capacity. Which leads us to the next piece of advice…
- Always try to be the best you can be. You are completely in control of yourself so have the power to be the best version of yourself. If you stay true to doing your best in each situation (we all have our slip up of course but we can learn from our mistakes), then you have a good character, which is much more important than your reputation (which is how others might see you).
- Don’t get too involved and concerned with things you don’t control – which only serves to distract you from being the best you can be. This reminds me of the quote “what others think of you is none of your business” (Roy Bennett, ‘In the Light of the Heart’) which is a great philosophy because it instils in us a confidence in our own desire to have a good moral compass, that we aren’t doing it for the good impression we make on others, but in our effort to do the right thing and be the best we can be.
Outlining some specific methods on how to go about being the best version of yourself and refraining from being too involved in things you can’t control; here are some practical tips Wooden gives;
- Never be late – be on time and close on time. This is a particularly good reminder in the workplace. Running meetings that go overtime, keeping people waiting can cause avoidable angst and frustration amongst people. Keeping on time is a good overall principle for life and can have an amazing effect.
- Refrain from profanity, whining and complaining. Profanities aside, whining and complaining often distracts us from forging ahead and bettering ourselves. It also is a slippery slope to falling into the blame and victim mentality trap. While it can be healthy to let off steam and get things off your chest, you need to find the fine line between offloading stress and chronic complaining.
- Never criticize a teammate – or a work colleague. Focusing on others flaws and shortcomings simply stands in the way of you doing the best you can do.
- Have patience, in whatever you do. Patience is necessary for progress. And it’s very closely related to perseverance. Don’t lose patience with yourself or others. It can be tempting to act on your frustrations but if you find you are someone who is easily frustrated and impatient, it’s good practice to train yourself to have more empathy and kindness. In doing so you will become more patient.
How have you related to this article? Next time you are focussed on winning, on the outcome, try to shift your focus to be on the journey and what you can do to be a better human being along the way.
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