Elements of Success We Don’t Often Consider

Ink on Toned Pastel Paper – Words: Joseph Addison

I recently spoke to a group of college students, and afterwards a young woman came up to me to talk about success. She wondered what she needed to do to grow up to be like me…not her words, more an essence of what she was asking. I asked her how she defined success. There was a blank stare and silence, followed by the usual catch phrases utilized by someone of her age group. I smiled, as I thought I might have said something similar at her age. The idea of success and being able to define it for ourselves are two very different thoughts.

I have written many quotes about success, from every size, shape and color of person. All those quotes provide elements and commentary about success. Everyone has a comment about success, everyone seems to want success, very few of us have ever really sat down to define what we want our own success to look like. Those who have and then make decisions to support their definition of success usually reach their goal over time. What I liked about these words from Joseph Addison were the words – perseverance, experience, caution and hope. Very rarely have I heard someone use these four in combination together to help prescribe how to reach success.

It would be fabulous if once we defined success we had a clear path to get there. Anyone who has reached any level of success will tell you that the path is anything but straight, never totally clear or without rocks and potholes to overcome. It is called a journey for a reason. The faint of heart, the easily discourage or those who are unable to persevere through the ups and downs do not often fulfill the goal to be successful. Success is hard work. It needs caution and hope, experience and an ability to keep getting up after each fall. How do you tell all that to a young college student without feeling like you have punched a hole in all their dreams?

Instead of telling her all that, I asked her again to think about what success meant for her life and to write it down. I encouraged her to think big knowing that what she defines as success will change and grow as she reaches different stages of life. I encouraged her to ask great questions, read a lot and hang around people she thinks are successful. I wished her well and told her to check back in with me if she wants so we could talk more. I hope she will take me up on that offer.

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