Every person has some sort of desire to better themselves in some form or way. Being the social creatures that we are we almost always use social benchmarks to gauge our growth and development. I’m talking about awards, promotions, elections, friendships, fame, and love. Striving to become successful is important in personal and professional relationships. In order to get where we want to go we make goals for ourselves, and if everything works out in the end we reach our goals and hopefully become a success story.
Success, however, is not what it seems. It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a man’s character by how he deals with hardships, but you can tell even more about a man’s character by how he deals with success. Success can take many forms and is the aspiration of many, but success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance will always lead you to failure that could have easily been avoided. Success is the kiss of death. Don’t believe me? Take these organizations for example: The Roman Empire, The Soviet Union, Enron, General Motors, Michael Jackson, and the list goes on. I believe that we have to fundamentally change our view of success in this country so that we can weather the storms of success that the future may bring. To do this we’re going backtrack and take a look at goal setting.
The American Nightmare
In a recent survey of 18-25 year olds conducted by The Pew Research Center that focused on “the American Dream”, 81% said their dream was the become rich, and 51% said their dream was to become famous. This is a far cry from the American dreams of our parents and grandparents. They once dreamed of owning a house of their own and providing for their family. Here we are some 40-50 years later and our dreams have been stretched to absurd wealth and fame. Alarmed? You should be Generation Y is our future. I’m nervous and I’m only 24. I’m in the thick of this mess, but alas I have not yet been perverted by dreams of wealth and paparazzi.
Whenever I work with college classes I always talk about this survey, because when you hear it sounds really absurd. What I try to explain to the students is that it’s okay to want to be successful but you have to understand that just wanting to be successful isn’t enough to actually make you successful. Many people believe that attributes like wealth, fame and success are goals themselves when in fact they are actually byproducts of hard work, growth and development.
Michael Jordan was famous because he was the best at basketball, Dave Matthews is famous because he’s a dedicated and talented musician, and Gandhi was known the world over because he was a person who strove to be the pinnacle of morality and righteousness. Their fame was secondary to their talent and hard work.
Goals and Objectives
Goals and success are just concepts. Objectives, however, are very real. The only true way to reach the level of success you desire is to set obtainable objectives in your life. If your goal is to get an A in a college course then make your objective to read every chapter. If your goal is to become a better baseball player make your objective to take 100 ground balls after every practice. Are you getting the idea? Objectives are what bridges the gap between where you’re at now and where you want to be. Objectives put you in motion; they ensure you’re moving towards your goal by breaking it down in to manageable chunks. Set goals in your life, but more importantly set objectives and stick to them. Objectives will get you where you want to go in life.
Most people who reach success have done a great job a sticking to their objectives to get them to that point in their life. However, one of the most difficult things is to stick to your objectives once you’ve reached your goal. Most people welcome in the arrogance and forget what got them to that point in their life. Never forget your objectives.
The Great Ones
The great ones are the people who have continual consistent success. Michael Jordan won his first three NBA Championships by working hard to become one of the most explosive players in the game. His second three championships were won late in his career after he’d lost a step in his speed. He reset his objectives and focused his game around a new shot, the “fade-away jumper” and dominated the competition in a completely new way.
Tiger Woods is another prime example of continual success. After winning more major tournaments in his young career than most golfers win in their life times he decided to set a new objective to correct his swing. This wasn’t easy because Tiger struggled for a few tournaments, but all the while he remained committed to swinging his clubs the correct way knowing that it would make him a more consistent golfer in future tournaments. The end result was more major tournament wins including winning the US Open with an injured leg. Most people would be happy with a single major victory but Tiger knew that to keep winning majors he needs to set objectives to develop all aspects of his game.
Success is Dynamic
Many people have the misconception that success and leadership are the end result of our objectives, but that’s simply not true. With each success in your life you’re stepping through the door for another challenge. Success is dynamic and like you it’s always changing. Understand your talents, identify your weaknesses, create your goals, and follow through with your objectives that will lead to success. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Always repeat.