Myths of Success – A Perspective on Achievement

I’ve written about the success as a matter of perspective. I wrote that we need to know where we want to go and define our successes and failures based on how we want our lives to be, not by outside expectations.

There are myths of success and expectations around success that I want to address:

Success results from hard work

The reason for starting the blog is to share my “redemption arc” from my failing out of Pharmacy School. Getting into school was hard and when there the work was even harder and a lot of it.

I wrote about the illusion of control and one thing we can control is how hard we work. I worked hard and nevertheless, still failed. We can’t control outside events, hurdles will appear when we didn’t plan for them so the best we can do is adapt or think about alternatives to the planned path.

There were over a hundred other people in the class, they continued on. Was it luck? Did they have more talent? Possibly yes to both. Or, more likely, it wasn’t right for me.

When I received the dismissal letter, I felt my future shatter. I was down on myself and needed to figure out what to do next. I knew that dwelling on the failure wasn’t going to change this or stop life from moving on.

Yet, I felt as if I didn’t have the skills or abilities in other aspects of my life. I thought as if I was faking it and someone was soon going to find out and expose me as a failure. I think that way sometimes but it helps to approach new things with confidence and see failure as a learning tool rather than a personal inability to succeed.

In the end, success based on hard work can’t be predicted. The only thing we can do is make a plan, try, and adapt to changes.

Life is fair and we all play by the same rules

This seems like an obvious statement but how often do we really think about it? I don’t think about it often but maybe I should.

We see it in the news, one person commits a crime and nothing happens, another person the same and completely different outcomes.

How do we challenge this? We can make a new field and make our own rule. Sounds easy enough. Or we can think about how we work not how hard.

We can learn the rules of the “game” and understand what tools we need to succeed. Though I have to say, having a skill and being good at something does matter. It provides a solid foundation to grow and create a reliability associated with your name or skill.

This is valuable for the long-term, others will have no skill and know the rules but will only go so far in the short-term before having to change to a new thing.

As with travel, in life, it’s important to know where you want to go and what skill is needed to get there. Figuring out how to have solution-centered thinking and evaluations of what skills are needed today and what might be needed tomorrow can give you a change, not a guarantee, at successful outcomes.

Following in the footsteps of others

All the answers to questions we think of or haven’t thought of can be found online. We can research people we think are successful and what they’ve done in their lives and use it as a blueprint for our lives.

Many of us do this but why? Why do we think we can reproduce these successes? I could hope that it’ll work. It could be that we think we are smarter. One thing is true, things change rapidly. Today is not the same as yesterday and was was true yesterday may not be true tomorrow.

What worked for one person is no guarantee to work for another, circumstances and people are different. This is not to say that we should completely discount those successes. We can find hints and lessons in them, treat them as tools to learn how to adapt to our situations.

Before I started Pharmacy School, I looked online for hints on what to expect, what study habits people were using, and anything that could help give me an advantage. I probably took them too literally and didn’t apply the lessons they learned and adapt them to my purposes. When these methods didn’t work for me, I beat myself up.

Final thoughts

Success is more than the hard work we put into it. It’s more than the rules we play by. Success is a combination of our thought out personal vision, execution of goals in support of that vision, our skill and ability to adapt, changing circumstances, and the environment we find ourselves working in.

It’s important to remember that failing is not the end but a learning experience. It gives us an opportunity to test our skills and assumptions, then to make adjustments and try again.