What’s your definition of success? If I answered that quickly, without thinking, I’d say that success was about earning a lot of money… i.e. a successful business, a successful songwriter, a successful athlete. If allowed a moment to ponder it, I’d say that success is about achieving a desired outcome… such as the party was a success, or academic success.
I saw this meme (below) and it made me laugh. It’s not meant to be funny, but it cracks me up! Maybe because I’m always finding the funny. I don’t know who wrote it, so I can’t give them credit. My guess would be that it’s creator is either in high school or is an adult who never got over their own negative experiences in high school. I read it as a passive-aggressive message directed at someone in particular. But it’s there on the internet for everyone to see (and make fun of).
The first thing about it that made me laugh was right there at the top, “Unsuccessful People.” Who is unsuccessful at being a person? What happens if you’re an unsuccessful person? Are you demoted to a lower station on the food chain?
This list makes the assumption that one can only follow one column – the left or the right. So let’s examine our choices. First, it says that successful people read every day and unsuccessful people watch tv every day. If I have to pick just one, call me unsuccessful. With the exception of a week at camp every summer as a kid, I’m certain that I have watched tv every day of my life.
Compliment or criticize. I stop total strangers in public to compliment their hair or clothes. I compliment to the point of being accused of flirting. But if successful people never criticize, then again, I’m unsuccessful, because I do (such as criticizing this meme). Next on the list is embrace change versus fear change. I just covered this extensively in another blogpost (Change).
Forgiving vs. Holding a Grudge – Johnny Carson was a successful entertainer whose ability to hold a grudge was legendary. Celebrities were frequently blackballed from his show for offending him in one way or another. These days, that wouldn’t mean much. But Carson hosted the only late night talk show and he could make or break a career. No one can argue that Steve Jobs was a success. He was also known for holding a grudge. He once said he would spend his last dime and everything that Apple had to destroy the Android.
Talk about ideas vs. talk about people – I love talking about ideas. There’s nothing more intellectually stimulating that listening to someone else’s thoughts and ideas, especially when they differ from my own. But let’s face it, if you’re out with friends, are you more likely to discuss alternative fuel sources or a mutual friend’s boob job?
As far as the next three things go… I believe there are many successful people who think they know it all, blame others for their failures and have a sense of entitlement.
Lastly, goal setting. I don’t know if it’s possible to “never set goals.” My employer makes me set yearly goals. I once wrote a list of short and long term goals. One of the long term goals was to visit Australia. That would take a lot of money as well as a lot of time off work. In the meantime, my husband and I took a trip to Hawaii. As we were exiting the plane, after an exhausting ten hour flight, the guy next to us said, “Enjoy your vacation, I’ve got another 12 hour flight before I reach Australia.” My goal changed that very second.
Setting goals is certainly important for direction, but it can also set us up for disappointment. I have a plan to accomplish certain things every day when I arrive at work. With rare exception, the day does not go as planned. Does that make me a failure? Last year, I set a weight loss goal. Unless I lose 30 pounds in the next month, I will not reach that goal. Does that make me a failure? Does that lessen the weight that I did lose? Should I stop trying to lose the rest since I wasn’t successful in losing it in exactly one year?
Of course I don’t think I’m a failure. I’m certainly not going to let one hostile meme make me believe that I am. I’m just pointing out the absurdity. I could go on, but I’ve got to go. My dvr is full and I’ve got a lot of tv watching to do.