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Author Topic: Success & Failure: How is it measured?  (Read 1034 times)

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Offline PixiliciousTopic starter

Success & Failure: How is it measured?
« on: April 18, 2010, 08:43:00 PM »
A recent conversation with a friend revolved around success and achievements.  He is in the middle of figuring out what he wants to do with himself being that he's graduating from college here in May.  After a bit of beating around the bushes, pregnant pauses and incomplete sentences, he finally managed to explain that he didn't feel that his life was a success so far in his twenty-four years of existence.  He felt like that nothing he had accomplished was worthy of achievement.  That, of course, just opened up a can of worms, and led us straight into a rather lengthy discussion about what he thought he needed to do to be successful, since he felt that he hadn't been so already. 

That entire conversation got me thinking.  What I thought were successful accomplishments for him, were things that he didn't see as such, but rather things that almost anyone can do, that doesn't set him out from the crowd.  That was when I realized he'd given me the answer that I was looking for.  Success for him was doing something novel, that had never been done before, that set him apart from the average Joe walking down the street.

Everyone has their definitions of what achieving success means.  I believe that one's definition of success is more or less a personal one that cannot be made by anyone but that individual person, but at the same time, can be influenced by many outside sources.

For example, my mother doesn't consider my life to be a success right now, because I'll be twenty-three this year and I am still not done with school.  For her, she is following a timeline more or less prescribed by society on what makes a person successful in their lives.  Get married by the time you're 25.  Own a house before you're 30.  Have a family going before you hit 35.  I'm sure we've all heard of some of these at one point or another.  But, my question is... What makes anyone think that they can set goals to be obtained by another person and have it be considered a standard for success? 

Success for me, used to mean doing what my parents expected of me.  Now, it means completing the goals that I have set for myself.  And my standards of failure?  I have none.  Failure doesn't exist in my little world, as strange as it sounds.

First of all, I truly believe that you can learn a lesson from basically anything that happens to you, both good and bad.  You gain knowledge from it, and you grow from the experience.  It makes you a stronger person in some cases.  Now, tell me...What have you failed in a situation in which you can gain knowledge and grow from?   Nothing, in my opinion.  Secondly, failure doesn't exist in my world because I go into things giving it my best effort.  Once I can truly say that I've given something my best efforts, I know that I have succeeded at something, though it may not have been my original goal.

Are my views flawed?  Probably.  Does it work for me?  Yes.  Will it work for you?  Yes.  No.  Maybe?  Who knows?  But, that was what the point of this writing was, wasn't it?

Now, the real question is...How do you define success?


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Re: Success & Failure: How is it measured?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2010, 09:13:09 PM »
That was very thought provoking. I enjoyed reading it. It forced me to think of how standards get set for success. Personally I think for me there are levels of success in different facets of life. As far as family goes I am married and have one child by the age of 30. That is a success for me overall. However the child isn't mine biologically and I would like my own. Plus that child is bipolar so there are successes and failures each and ever day. Also while I consider family a success for me, I have largely ignored playing guitar and making music. That I consider a failure in the midst of my other successes.

Really I say that to say this; everyone's successes and failures can only be set by themselves. I agree that other people can't set those standards for someone else. Does it matter if the whole world and everyone in your life call you a success if you feel like a failure? Does it matter if everyone in your life consider you a failure if you know you're a success? No. What matters is what standards you set for yourself. Great thought provoking blog Pixilicious.

Offline Sasha

Re: Success & Failure: How is it measured?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2010, 10:00:18 PM »

 It is funny ...when I was in high school I had this list I made in my senior year of the things I wanted to achieve in my life . Well thought out mind you and I had defined the ways in which I planned to get there . Oh it was a perfect plan . Then life happened .. a unexpected pregnancy at 20 ...dropped out of college ...decided to go about it a different route ...only to end back at school trying to raise a child on my own . Then an abusive relationship ..a second child ...still fighting to hold that together. Working several jobs to keep up with the Jones' the best parent ...then of course the downward slide into divorce . 

Woke up one day I was about to turn 30 I was with a man who had 2 kids .. we got 4 kids ...still no house. My dream job was a bit stressful and I worked for a small company wearing way too many hats . Medical issues stopping him from working at the time . Oh yes ..depression set in what a mess it all was . Till my grandmother told me ...she was turning 70 would I like to trade her birthdays . Pointed out everything I had accomplished and asked the same question ...what determines success ?

My answer to that has changed over the 15 years since the conversation and may change again before it is all over. To me success in life is basically the ability to be happy in your current situation and be able to share that happiness with others . Life really isn't about the fancy car,  size of your house,  the prestigious job, the fact you have children and they have all grown up perfect . How many well to do people sit miserable and hate the idea of going home ?  Yes life has stages has pitfalls ..sometimes you will stand on the top of mountain and others you will tread through the valleys of despair is a journey ...the success of it to me is measured on your ability to smile and take the next step . Failure only happens when you sit down and give up .

Loved the blog by the way .


Offline Enmuro

Re: Success & Failure: How is it measured?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2010, 11:36:02 PM »
Great read with thought provoking questions Pix. This actually kind of brought to mind a favorite short story of mine, The Birthmark by Hawthorne. In it there's some inventor who considers all of his inventions to be abject failures. Meanwhile, from an outside observers perspective, every so called 'failure' is a stunning success that rivals the last. I've noticed a similar dissonant tendency to exist in very smart, dedicated, and successful individuals [though not necessarily happy ones]. There's no pleasing such people when it comes to how well they have performed in the past or can perform in the future. There's always a degree of failure self evident in whatever they do. These people work harder and harder to whittle that amount of failure down but its never good enough. They are constantly examining themselves to look for ways to succeed but this never does more than make them fail less.

In short, for me, abject failure is the past, and there is only the false hope of success. However, I don't think this perspective is at odds with your approach to success and failure. A learning experience is from one perspective, providing for increased chance of future success. And I agree wholeheartedly with the keep trying approach to life. Sitting still is even worse than failing, its like not even existing.