Are We Thinking about Success All Wrong? Twelve Observations

Success is a fascinating concept.  It is something we all desire but we are not exactly sure of what it consists.  So we must each determine what success looks like for us.

Social Media has become the new trophy case for success and it is filled one a post at a time.  The messages are clear; I have friends, I am happy, I have new things, my kids are talented, we go to cool places, we are beautiful, I work out and the trophies keep piling up.  As people post the subjective evidence of their successes; friends and followers wonder if they are comparatively successful.  “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to post THAT?”  And the moment they can, they do and in this way, insecurity plays forward; it’s like a pyramid scheme for neurosis.

For our purposes, I will define success as the achievement of worthwhile ambitions.  Success begins the precise moment we stop having to prove to ourselves that we are successful.  Success is achieved the moment we stop having to prove to others that we are successful.

So let’s ask the big question: “Can you actually pursue success?”  “Yes.”  I believe success comes intentionally and the best route to it is found by following the steps of those who have already arrived.

Here are some observations formed by watching successful people over the decades.

Successful people…

  1. Have defined success. They know what a win looks like for them and they get all of them that they can.
  2. Stay positive. I don’t see negative people succeeding. At anything. Ever.
  3. Are 100% present where they are. There is no attempt to balance.  Whether are work, at home or at play, these folks give all they have to what they are doing right now.
  4. Work hard at the right things. They are efficient. They understand that it is not “how long you work;” it is “how smart you work.”
  5. Are risk takers, not gamblers.
  6. Want to make a difference.  True success is bigger than how much money you can make or how high up the ladder you can climb.
  7. Take personal responsibility for failure. They own, learn and grow from their misses, miscalculations and miscues.
  8. Make other people successful. Success wants to be shared and elevates others.
  9. Prepare for future opportunities. Over the course of a lifetime there are a handful of defining moments. Being prepared to stand and deliver when these moments arrive is the testimony of every successful person.
  10. Refuse entitlement. This is a choice that has to be made every single day.
  11. Give back.  Generosity does not come “after people have made it.” Generosity is a virtue successful people have practiced all along.
  12. Leave a Legacy. 

When I talk to successful people, I consistently discover they have been doing these things long before they “made it.” You see, these twelve things are not just what successful people do; they are how people become successful!

Jesus asked the question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”  It is the question we all must answer.  Successful people emerge from this life with their legacies secured, their relationships strong and their souls intact.

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.   He is the author of “12 Things I See Happy People Do (that unhappy do not)” and the book “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.”

Published by Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Fairview Heights, IL since 1997. I am an orthodox Christian but I am not in a bad mood about it.

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