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An Attempt to define Success...

You’ve heard the cliche, success is a journey, not a destination. In many cases I agree. There is more fun in the chasing than in the catching. This blog post is inspired by a story which my friend narrated to me. He went for fishing with his friend and caught a very large striped bass. He was thrilled and scrambled around to find a camera to take a picture. When his friend bent over to let the fish go, he said, “What are you doing? We can clean it and fry it up back at the cabin!” His reply was, “Man, I don’t want to clean this fish.” Then I let him go.

That story illustrates that the fun is in the pursuit, the chase. Success is like that. We love the thrill of the chase, the excitement of what’s going to happen, the what ifs, and the hopes that come with them. Once you’ve “arrived,” you have to set different goals to get those thrills again.

To many people think that success is wrapped up in things, but the truth is, success is wrapped up in how you see yourself and how you are able to enjoy your life. To have a completely successful life along these lines, you’ll need to consider these six components:

  1. Peace of mind. Can anyone truly consider themselves successful if they lack this ingredient? People around the world are constantly searching for peace of mind. I define peace of mind as freedom from fear, worry, anger, and guilt. I think we seek peace of mind through many channels, some of them are destructive and some are worthwhile. Some seek peace of mind through faith, some through money, others in relationships, others in work, and still others seek to fill this void through participation in vices such as gambling or drugs. Success, no matter how you define it, must have peace of mind in the mix, otherwise it is bland and watered down.
  2. Health and energy. “Success” without good health and the energy to enjoy life isn’t success at all, it’s just a shell of what it can be. Many people that are financially successful in the world’s eyes spend their fortunes in desperate attempts to regain their health or to stay youthful and vibrant. Any success without health and energy to enjoy it is like a high performance car with no gasoline in the tank.
  3. Loving relationships. No matter how much financial success someone enjoys, again, it’s a hollow feeling if you have no one to share it with. It doesn’t have to be a spouse, it can be parents, children, friends or other family members. Remember that Scrooge was financially successful, but he had no peace of mind and he had no one to share it with. His success was empty.
  4. Financial freedom. That is, freedom from thinking about money all the time. Not necessarily being “rich,” but having enough money to pay your bills, feed your family, and take care of basic necessities. For some, $50,000 in the bank would be plenty, for others, $5 million wouldn’t be enough. To be sure, many people think of finances when they visualize success and it IS a major component in our culture, but for the purposes of defining success, I’m talking about the feeling of freedom, that deep sigh that everything is okay.
  5. Worthy goals. Most people have financial freedom as their top goal, but once you have that big pile of cash, then what? That’s why you constantly see millionaires and billionaires getting involved in some type of other business venture or philanthropy. Many people misinterpret their chasing as greed, but for someone who is already financially rich, it’s the chase that they love. Money is just the way to keep score. Humans need to be chasing something. We desperately want to improve ourselves, or someone, or something. It’s just human nature. Either we move or we die.
  6. Personal fulfillment. Maslow called this step Self Actualization. This is the concept of “being all you can be,” of feeling like you matter and that you’re making a difference. This is the feeling that you aren’t just going through the motions for no reason, what you do and who you are is of vital importance. If you have the first five components, but feel unfulfilled and useless, you don’t enjoy the full measure of success.

Not all of your endeavors will incorporate all six of these, and any one of them can be a pursuit in itself, but many of these aspects will show up in your pursuit of success. You can adapt these six components into any goal you set for yourself. Money for example.

  • You’d want the security that it represents.
  • The ability to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle.
  • The relationships that improve with enough money. Many arguments involve money.
  • The freedom it represents. You can do more with it than without it, after all.
  • The ability to set goals much higher than “where’s my next meal coming from.”
  • Lastly, the ability to use money to bless the lives of others.

Applying it to finishing your degree and you’ll see:

  • That it represents the relief you’ll experience once you’ve finished.
  • The health and energy you’ll feel as a result of accomplishing your goal.
  • The relationships it can open up for you.
  • The potential for financial freedom it represents.
  • The higher goals you can now set for yourself.
  • The feeling that you became a new person through accomplishing your goal.

What are you chasing? What are the goals that you have and why do you have them? How do they mesh with the six aspects of success? How will your life change once you reach the goals you’ve set?

Japanese Innovation: Kaizen and Kakushin

The CEO of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, was recently interviewed and written up in an article in the Wall Street Journal . Watanabe was also recently interviewed in the July-August edition of the Harvard Business Review. In the interviews, Watanabe talks about radical innovation: he describes the idea of building a dream car that cleans the environment, prevents accidents, can travel the world on a single tank of gas, and of course is cheap and high quality.

Watanabe's talk of innovation - and his use of the Japanese word Kakushin for it - has triggered some discussion on the blogosphere. In particular, there has been interest regarding the relationship of Kaizen (continuous improvement) to Kakushin (innovation) and Kaikaku (revolutionary change). See for example here and here.

In his book Kaizen, Imai described innovation as more of a Western approach. Japanese innovation is often described in terms of Kaizen only, so it is interesting to see radical, breakthrough innovation described from the Japanese perspective by the company that made Kaizen famous.

The 7 People You Absolutely Need In Your Life

One thing that we all need is a friend … or two, or three. Too many times we think of someone as a friend, when they’re really just an acquaintance. True friends have qualities that acquaintances do not. Can one or two people have all these qualities? Sure. I would say that if you find someone who exhibits all of them, you’ve found a true friend, maybe even a soul-mate.

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.  –Aristotle

I believe there are 7 types of friends we all need. I’ve found 4 and striving to find rest !!

A friend to listen to us

It happens so rarely, perhaps that’s why nothing is more powerful than the art of listening. When someone focuses on you and listens to your ideas, your thoughts, and your concerns, you’ve found a friend. Bonus points if they can listen without prejudice, passing judgment, or feeling the need to constantly give advice or tell you “what they would do.”

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. –Dale Carnegie

A friend we can trust

Trust is a tricky issue and is rarely an “either/or” proposition. Trust is something that comes in degrees, but it is something that is a vital part of any friendship. As a matter of fact, without trust, there can be no friendship.

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. –Confucius

A friend to accept us

Acceptance is a willingness and an openness to see things as they really are without scurrying around trying to change them to fit our mold. For example, if you’re feeling tense, you’re just feeling tense. That’s it. A friend doesn’t think it’s horrible or catastrophic or that it will last forever. They certainly don’t think you won’t be able to handle it. It doesn’t mean anything, except that you’re feeling tense at a particular moment.

Acceptance doesn’t mean blanket approval. We can accept a situation without approving of it. Acceptance doesn’t mean we’ve given up. I can accept a diagnosis without giving up on treatment. Acceptance means we’re paying attention.

When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old. –Mark Twain

A friend to help and support us

Friends help and support each other. Simply put, a friend is loyal and will set aside his or her interests to help. They will faithfully support your decisions and help you see things from different perspectives, even if you don’t always see eye to eye.

There are three faithful friends – an old wife, an old dog, and ready money. –Benjamin Franklin

A friend to love and respect us

Love is putting someone’s highest interests at the top of your priority list. Respect is understanding that others actually can make a worthwhile contribution. It’s hard to have one without the other. A friend is someone who both loves and respects us.

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.  –Mother Teresa

A friend to hope with us

Hope is the confident expectation of great things to come. We need hope. Someone without hope is a pitiful, dying soul. We need friends who will build up hope inside of us, that will help us hang on just a little while longer when things seem their darkest.

Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.  –Henry David Thoreau

A friend to challenge us

We need people in our lives who will challenge us to become better, to strive for more. No, I don’t mean in the sense of accumulating more things, or climbing the corporate ladder, but in becoming better in all the areas I’ve just outlined.

It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.  –Ghandi

We need each other. Plain and simple. We need each other for friendship, for companionship, for fellowship.

Now the big question: How well do YOU stack up in these areas? Don’t answer that in the comments, but answer it in your own voice inside your head. Where do you need to improve your friendship skills so that someone absolutely needs you in their life?

When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character. –W. Somerset Maugham

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