Excellence is something we are all taught to pursue to our utmost. Many media platforms have categorized levels of success for modern society — e.g. Forbes 30 under 30, Time’s most powerful/influential person, richest man in (insert industry). And while these are all notable and worthy reasons to pursue success, it is very easy to get wrapped up in the end goal and neglect the things that matter most.
The new age philosophy is to be obsessed and insane about becoming successful. Today success is measured more by financial gain than anything else. Many Fortune 500 company CEO’s are self- proclaimed workaholics and YAHOO! CEO Marissa Mayer claims to work over 90 hours a week on 3-4 hours of sleep. Mayer’s success as a female engineer is notable and every bit worth aspiring to. Below are eight things we should never neglect when doing so.
1. Your Health
This cannot be overstated enough. A famous saying goes, “we spend the first half of our lives using our health to acquire wealth and last half using our wealth to maintain health.”
Whether you want to be on the cover of Times magazine or run your own successful business you need to be able to do so. Neglecting your health while in the pursuit of success or the next promotion at work is only detrimental to your own life. Adopting a lifestyle where you work on 2-3 hours of sleep, eat take-away and drink energy drinks is a medium paced path to stroke, heart attacks and future health problems.
Organizing our lives and trying to find better ways to treat our bodies should be a priority for all.
2. Your Origins
Too often people tend to forget where they came from in search of where they are going. No matter how badly you want to forget your childhood or past experiences/failures and mistakes, understanding where you have come from and how that has contributed directly or indirectly to the person that you have become today is crucial.
Past failures, mistakes and bad judgement are not things to be ashamed of nor overly regretted. If you can take the time and understand the lessons that life is teaching you, perception changes and it brings light to events that occur. Not all perceived bad things are actually bad; they may take us out of our comfort zone but they are also a blessing in disguise. Think of where you are today and try to imagine where you’d be if not for the struggles that made you stronger.
3. Your self- worth
They say there has never been a generation more self-absorbed and vain as Gen-Y and words like selfie have become one of the most used in the English language. Maybe we are more self-serving than the people before us, but do we really value who we are?
It’s very common to idolize someone successful and aspire to be like them. The media makes a point to remind us daily who we should aspire to be more like, but the problem with putting someone on a pedestal is that we automatically compromise ourselves. We belittle our abilities and wonder if we can ever be as good as the next person. Maybe it’s the top salesman in your office or Oprah Winfrey, but too often in the midst of the greats we tend to hold back for fear of being laughed at, public failure or due to a lack of trust in our capacity to perform certain tasks.
It’s common to feel inferior among people more qualified, smarter or even better looking. But life requires one thing from you: to always strive for the best with whatever cards you have been dealt. You were not called here on earth to put people on pedestals, any more than you were called to belittle others. Remember what makes you who you are.
4. Your appearance
This is not just physical appearance (but that helps too). It’s more about the type of person you portray yourself to be. What perception do people have of you? I never preach being a people pleaser because we all know you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Now naturally some people will simply just hate. That’s their personal life mission and it’s who they are. The chances of being struck by lighting twice are higher than the chances of them changing, and that’s okay.
We’ve all got jobs to do. The moral isn’t to be liked but to be pleasant. Sometimes, overachievers and intelligent people tend to have the least bit of patience when it comes to other people because they perceive them as slow and lazy.
You may fall into one of two categories. Are you the person no one comes to for help because they’re scared that you will point them as idiots, or are you the type of person no one trusts with tasks because you always under deliver and produce mediocre work?
Sometimes, the perception people have of you is wrong, but where there is smoke there is possibly fire. Try not to be a person of drama and scandals. Be pleasant to people, even those who you do not always agree with. That’s what true class acts are made of. The more pleasant you are, the more pleasant people and situations become.
5. Your self-assurance
Self- assurance, as defined by Merriam Webster: great faith in oneself or one’s abilities. Often confused with this word.
There is this misconception that confident people are people who are miracle workers and possess innate abilities beyond human comprehension. In reality, confidence comes from trust in your abilities no matter who in the room is more qualified. Some of the world’s most memorable leaders were in no way exceptional. They just managed to keep a sense of equanimity in the midst of crisis and bring the people to the promise land, leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehemiah, Joshua and Martin Luther King to name a few.
6. Your values
These are the things you believe in and they have made you who you are. Have you ever wondered about the fact that one man will steal because he lacks and that another will pursue an honest living despite being under similar circumstances? It’s our core values that shape us. Do you think someone who stays up all night for work is being committed or could they use better time management?
Opinions we form of others and decisions we make are due to our values. Don’t compromise yourself or betray your beliefs in order to get ahead. Success isn’t so much about how much wealth you can accumulate, but more to do with becoming a person of character in spite of your achievements and material wealth. Growth and development are an essential part of life, but that process is only as meaningful as the foundations they are built on.
7. Your family
Family is so important. It cannot be overstated. As cliché and overrated as it may sound, they are important.
Think of all the choices you have in life, where to live, where to work, where to study, what food to eat, who to marry, to have kids or not, to apply for that promotion or not, what insurance company to go with. But you did not choose your family. Now you’re stuck with that annoying sibling who grates your cheese every chance they get or maybe your best friend is your brother/sister. Either way, if ever someone tells you they do not believe in fate, tell them family is fate. So do not neglect them in the pursuit of accumulating worldly wealth and status.
8. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Maybe you are not where you planned on being at 25 or 30 or 40 or even 50. So what if you didn’t do everything on your bucket list? There is this amazing God-given gift called life, and it goes on and on; so until you drop dead, you are not finished.
When you embark on a journey to be successful and achieve your wildest dreams, it can be the scariest and sometimes loneliest journey. Learn to drown out all the noise and focus on why you are doing what you are doing. Remember to never doubt yourself and have the utmost faith that Heaven is on your side.