The key to personal success

We all want to be successful and while we can’t all be the very best at what we do, we need to recognise that we are all capable of being really good at something. Part of being successful in life is finding out what you are good at and refining your skills so you can get better and better at it. Think of how many lives have been lived where people never got to find out what they were good at. So much of history has been based on simply surviving. If we have the ability to choose our lifestyle or what career or job we might pursue, if we have the opportunity to do what it is we want to do, and not just have to do, we are truly lucky. 

In a famous quote attributed to Einstein; “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Think of people who are the most successful in their field; Roger Federer may not have been quite so successful if he had pursued being a journalist; Bill Gates could have lived quite a mediocre life had he chosen to be a chef. People who are successful find out what they are good at early on, and pursue it. They use their unique attributes and characteristics to prosper in life. 

Being in touch with ourselves and what our key strengths are means we need to look up to ourselves favourably, in a positive light and ask ourselves; “What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What do I think I could be really good at”? Being able to do so requires some self-belief. It has a lot to do with our self-esteem; which can be defined as “the level of confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect”. Self-esteem ebbs and flows throughout our lives, sometimes it’s high, sometimes low. The key is, when it’s low we need to try to have some self-reflection to find out why and work on improving it. There are many factors that affect it; genetics, childhood experiences, age; these things are not completely in our control. But other factors like our thoughts, beliefs, stamina, energy and personal circumstances can be managed. 

How to improve your self-esteem

In 1890, William James, “The Father of American Psychology,” published The Principles of Psychology. In his book, he says that self-worth is based on two key things; 

  1. Our actual achievements, and 
  2. Our aspirations. 

Which he conceptualised in an equation: 

Self-esteem = success/pretensions 

According to James our self-esteem is equated to how well we’re doing in life (success) divided by how good we feel about ourselves (pretensions). When the scale is leaning in favour of success being greater than our pretensions, we have success. 

It actually provides a useful framework to approach your self-esteem and achievements in life. You can’t always be successful/ win/ reach your goals with flying colours. Life involves failures. But we can’t have success with everything we do. According to James we have to “pick out the one on which to stake his salvation.” 

Roger Federer could have been a good journalist. But he could only be exceptional at tennis. Tennis is his “salvation.” If you want to become great at something, you need find out early what you are good at and pursue it. This is something we need to tell our children but also what we need to encourage employees to do; as part of their journey for continuous improvement. We are not all going to be elite stars at our chosen field, but, by our own measures of success, we can be really good at it. 

Find out what you are good at – even if it takes a long time 

In any workplace there might be people who are doing a role that doesn’t really correspond to their strengths. In effect, they might feel they are not good at anything. If we are pursuing the things we are good at, and are successful at it, our self-esteem and self-worth grows. Workplaces that facilitate people changing roles and moving into areas more aligned with their strengths and passions are more progressive and better at keeping staff. 

These days people change careers and life paths all the time; a huge change from yesteryear. Research shows most people will change careers at least once in their lives. In fact, the average person tends to go through 3-7 careers before they retire, and this number may be more like 5-7 for the current and upcoming generations of workers.

Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today . I’d love to help

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