Defining success

November 07, 2013

In a recent conference, I attended last weekend that addressed resiliency in institutions, I was fortunate enough to meet some successful members of the community.

As I recently started studying cases where a person ends up becoming successful, as well as looking into those key concepts that lead to success which youth like myself could enforce in ourselves as early as possible in order to reach our goals.

So, when I started intently asking each and every one of those highly ranked people in the community about their experiences, I was surprised to find out that many ideas that I had regarding success were actually not quite true.

While in conversation with the head manager of First National Bank in our area, I asked him whether he feels he already reached his momentum of success, and when I expected his answer to be somewhat close to “there is always more to achieve, you are never there yet”, I found him instead saying that his ultimate goal was to succeed on a personal level, where he used his career as a means to reach that kind of success, as the source of his achievements is knowing that he can be a good role model to his kids, being able to provide for his family, and being able to give back to the community is what drives success to him.

So, he measures success based on his relationship with his family and his view of himself and how good a human being he is.

What he said really made me reconsider my definition of what being successful means, as whenever I thought of people who are at the top, I pictured them up on the top of that mountain alone, when in fact the people around you are the main reason you end up being on that mountain in the first place.

I then found myself being introduced to the dean of graduate school in University of Northern Colorado, and as soon as she mentioned how her whole career that started with studying law to teaching English education till she became a dean was never part of any plan she had, I thought of how as the “plan-ahead” person that I am, I already planned out the next five years of my life, does this mean I am missing out? Should I just ‘go with the flow’?

I was pleased to hear her response as she said “If I had a five year plan at that time, I think I would have been more focused and goal oriented than the bit of randomness that my path looks like”, she nonetheless stated that the only thing that brought her to where she is today was the fact that all her jobs were driven from her want to help out, whether victims of lawsuit, students in her class, or graduates in her college.

And having that goal, aided her path that led to her success, because to her, finding more ways to help people is her mountain of success, however it is fairly important to be flexible with ones plans.

That day in the conference was surely one I benefitted a lot from, as I could closely study figures whom society ranked as being the best, and look closely into what shaped their experiences. I think we should all start doing our own investigations on the different topics that interest us, write our imaginary thesis on those topics and derive conclusions that help both ourselves as well as the people around us.

Perhaps this is what being an engineer is turning me into, a person who analyses and reaches conclusions herself, rather than take upon other peoples’ conclusion. So how about we all start thinking like engineers?