As a general role, those who are deemed as being ‘successful’ in society are held up as examples and role models for us all to follow. While this is understandable, it does not take into account the unique characteristics that define us as individuals or the fact that the core definition of success is open to interpretation. This means that we can draw inspiration and learn from a diverse range of people and events, so long as they resonate with us and provide something tangible that we can identify with.
With this in mind, here are eight reasons why you do not necessary need to draw life lessons from successful people: –
1. Success is Relative
You cannot escape from the fact that success is relative, depending on our upbringing, outlook and philosophy as individuals. It also depends on the nature of our individual goals, as the primary definition of success refers to the ‘accomplishment of an aim or purpose’. Therefore, by its very definition, success is relative and can be interpreted differently by each individual. This is why learning from those who are categorised as being successful may not be suitable for everyone, as one mans’ definition of success will be alien to another.
2. We can learn a great deal from Failure
While it is certainly possible to learn from successful individuals or business case studies, failure is also a great teacher that can provide invaluable and practical life lessons. It also provides a cryptic learning process, however, and one which requires a great deal of time, reflection and effort to decipher accurately. The key is to analyse your failures in a constructive and emotionally detached manner, taking the time to understand why you struggled to achieve your goals and determining what can be changed in the future.
3. Successful People make Sacrifices that can Impact on their Life
Regardless of how you define success, it is not always easy to achieve as an individual. Certainly those who achieve their goals in competitive fields such as finance or sport must sacrifice a great deal in the pursuit of success, both in terms of time and their quality of living. While these sacrifices may be necessary in some instances, as an individual you may be unwilling to give up time with your family and loved ones or compromise on their standard of living in order to achieve a specific goal. If this is the case, you will need to reconsider your priorities and have a clear understanding of how success will impact on your life.
4. Creative People fall outside the Generic Definition of Success
In theory, creative people should hold the key to the world and serve as living embodiments of success. This is not always the case, however, as those with a creative bent tend to be judged in a way that confounds the generic definition of success. The primary reason for this is the core difference that exists between creativity and innovation, as these are in fact entirely separate elements that comprise a process for bringing ideas to life and changing the world around us. Innovation is simply focused creativity, as it harnesses energy and ideas to create practical solutions to existing problems. This means that creative people can rarely be judged by the traditional metrics of success or draw direct inspiration from those who are perceived as being successful.
5. There are Unsung Heroes who are the Main Drivers of Innovation
This leads us neatly onto our next point, as the combination of creativity and innovation has helped to drive technological advancement in recent years. This has translated into simple and practical solutions for everyday problems, ranging from effective time management tools to advanced parental controls for restricting children’s access to technology. While we may associate many of these innovations with the major technology firms that have packaged them, a great deal will have been initially developed and patented by unknown individuals before being licensed to a brand. These unsung heroes are therefore pivotal drivers of innovation, and although we can all learn from their brilliance they remain anonymous in a world of large and faceless organizations.
6. Successful People may Set a Good Behavioral Example
While people who attain the traditional trappings of success (such as wealth, adulation and power) are often held up as examples in society, in reality they may set a less than positive example. The ability to develop a lucrative career or thrive in a competitive industry requires many of qualities, some of these may also lend themselves to a single-minded, selfish and ego-driven persona. These characteristics can cause successful individuals to act in a less than desirable way outside of their professional environment, and this is the kind of example that young and impressionable people would do well to avoid.
7. It can be hard to identify with extreme case studies of success
While we are often presented with case studies of successful individuals and businesses, some of these are extreme in their nature and extremely hard to identify with. Take the example of a close family friend of mine, who worked tirelessly and saved 75% of his income for 10 years to become an investor and ultimately retire at the age of 32. This required a considerable personal sacrifice, while he was also fortunate enough to benefit from a supportive network of friends and family. For anyone without such a close-knit support network this is particularly hard to identify with, meaning that there is a need to source inspiration from less extreme example of success.
8. Success Relies on External Factors that are beyond your Control
There are a number of popular success metrics, including high income and status within a business or social demographic. While you may have the personal characteristics to achieve success in your chosen field, however, this also relies on external factors that are beyond your control. You can only perform in a high-paying job if you are employed by someone, for example, while status is built on a reputation that can be easily undermined by those around you. Oscar Wilde once said that ‘Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result,’ which reinforces the need for luck and the right surroundings to succeed. There are therefore plenty of inspiration individuals who we can learn from, even though they have yet to attain the modern definition of success.
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