Last week a client who is a perfectionist (which is not a dirty word) told me he’s very success driven. With a perfectionist that almost goes without saying. However, it did get me thinking.
What is success, really? Is it being on deadline? Is it making lots of money? Is it having time to spend with your family, taking them on a fancy vacation? Is it producing the highest quality or serving your customer better?
Here’s the thing most people don’t understand about success. Success in and of itself is not a value. Sure, you can value being successful, but look a layer deeper and you’ll see it:
Success is a result of values well lived.
What doesn’t work for most people, certainly not for very long, is a pursuit of success driven by a value you don’t truly hold.
Does that mean you always get what you want? Or that you can’t? Or is it just that, as the Stones said, “if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”?
I don’t completely know. It gets philosophical pretty quickly. People have wrestled with this for three or four thousand years at least.
When shopping for a gift for my wealthy grandparents we used to say “what do you get someone who already has everything they need?”
The Preacher / King said “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good … nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities…”
Lao Tzu remarked “As for holding to fullness, far better were it to stop in time! … Fill your house with gold and jade, and it can no longer be guarded. Here is the Way (Tao) of Heaven: When you have done your work, retire!” I should note I think this meaning of the word “retire” is that of taking your rest in the evening. It’s frightfully imbalanced to think that we’ll rest once we’ve quit our job for a life of leisure. I think we function best in rhythms of work and rest, rather than one long workaholic push followed by a total letdown. That letdown often kills people, the obvious and ironic tragedy being that they never enjoyed life during those working years.
What are your core values? Many people can’t say. Some think they can, but they’ve just skimmed the topic once or twice without putting in the hard work of articulation to really get down to their bottom line.
When I was on an installation crew that primarily did customer service, I ended up getting screamed at and cussed by a Manhattan real estate mogul who was a fairly frequent customer. The owner of our company called him and said “We aren’t selling to you anymore. We don’t treat our people that way.”
Living your values well means you might fire a customer on principle. You may make less money for a time, but you’ll be a success. Even a hero!
Like this post? Then you might enjoy my book The Art of Motivational Listening. Check it out in my Bookstore in the sidebar. Thanks! –Adam