According to Brahmavihara, a popular series of Buddhist Virtues, there are four important and immeasurable qualities of life: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity.
But today, there is yet another crucial aspect of human life that is hard to measure: success.
Think about it.
How do you define success or what is success according to you? What kind of success gives you ‘satisfaction’? Or how much success is ‘enough’ for you?
These are few questions that Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson have tried to address in their esteemed book: “Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life”.
In this post, let’s dig a little deeper into their findings, as this book may be the perfect answer to individuals and businesses that are trying to figure out “how much success” or “what level of achievement” can actually be termed as “success”.
So What Level of Success are we Looking for?
I don’t really intend to start my opening statement with a bomb but honestly, we may never find an answer to the question ‘how much’.
Because there is no ‘finish line’ when it comes to ‘how much’ makes you feel ‘enough’. It’s more like a candy eating contest where the reward is more candy.
In a quest to find an answer to these questions, Nora and Howard worked closely with many super successful people, interviewed them and recorded their life experiences.
Although not many people had the perfect answer to these extremely challenging questions, the results were still very fruitful. If you’ve been wondering how to make the most of your life, these invaluable life lessons may be worth your time.
One of the best qualities of the book is it enlightens on where and when do people go wrong when trying to achieve success.
The Four Important Metrics of Success
In order to make the most of your beautiful life, it is crucial to focus on multiple yardsticks and not get sunk into just one. So, what are these important metrics?
Here we go:
- Happiness: Unlike what many people believe, true happiness is a mixture of having pleasure and feeling contentment in life.
- Achievement: Distinguishing yourself in your field of expertise that you have always strived to find success in.
- Feeling Important: Enjoying a positive impact from people you want and care about.
- Legacy: Demonstrating your values and accomplishments to help other people find success just like you.
So Where do People go Wrong in Trying to Chase Success
That’s the million-dollar question and thankfully, kudos to ‘Just Enough’, we have an answer.
Most people fail when it comes to balancing the four metrics of success, as explained above. For instance, if you focus on just one metric like “Finding success in your academics or profession”, you may forget the other great qualities of life like ‘happiness’, ‘family bonding’, health and relaxation.
Here is a classic example.
Adam wants to make it big in his life. Adam is a hard worker. He is never reluctant to stress it out or commit himself to his path of success. One of Adam’s goal is to earn big and make a fortune for himself so that he can retire a happy and relaxed life.
That’s all great. But there are few other questions that remain unanswered.
Is Adam really loving his job or business? Or is he overcommitting himself to something he does not enjoy?
Is Adam spending enough time with his family while focusing on building his fortune?
Adam’s kid is not going to be a kid anymore when Adam retires. His family may never be the same.
So lesson learned: It is important to make use of every moment of your life then and there. Because it is impossible to pause or rewind these great moments in your life.
The same thing applies to you as a kid during your school or college days. It is as important to take good care of your health as it is to work hard in your academics. Imagine yourself scoring high in your academics, being the best in what you do but not having a good enough health to enjoy your success! You may never enjoy your success unless you are fit.
Actually, over-commitment can be a killer of your success.
Champions and their Success Stories
The most successful people in life are those that have balanced the four great qualities of life as discussed above.
Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson’s findings demonstrate that:
A happily retired man is one who has invested his time in multiple facets of lifelike
- His very own health.
- His family and friends.
- Some time for relaxation and other things.
On the other hand, when people are overcommitted to certain metrics like making money, they may end up in family issues or problems that come because of ignoring friends. And guess what, by the time they reach their goal and look back, it may be too late to rebuild the lost relationship.
Therefore it is essential to revisit all the four metrics on a consistent basis while walking through the path of success.
Among the many successful people interviewed by the two legends, one of them explained how the quest for celebrity status and the over-appetite for success can make you fall a victim to your own excessive hunger. Even the best of achievers may end up doubting their own success. There is no point in travelling the road of success where at the end of the road you may ask yourself: “Is this the road I actually wanted to travel” or “Did I actually take the ultimate path of satisfaction”.
Warning Against ‘’Maximization”
What metric do you use to measure your own achievements, be it at school or in your office? For most people it’s a matter of ‘maximization’, meaning being the richest, youngest, best, smartest, most attractive, highest and so many other “est” or whatever scale you can think of.
Now, let’s define the term maximization in simple words. Maximization is a standard of accomplishing one or the other form of extreme, like being extremely intelligent or doing superhuman things. It can mean different things to different people like building the best of houses or living a super luxurious lifestyle.
Don’t trust me? Wait a sec.
Just close your eyes and grab any magazine in your library. What do you see? I tell you, you will not escape glamourized contents that read or relate to extreme performances and big rewards. It can be anything from drop-dead gorgeous looks of models and celebrities, unimaginable wealth gains and tons of other stories related to it.
The point is such things are ‘never enough’ and there is nothing called ‘maximization’. It simply goes on and on. You may have already earned what you always wanted to earn but now you want more of it. That is when you learn to say “enough”. Trust me, saying “enough” is an art as you need to know when to stop and be satisfied.
The finish line
If you’ve ever thought of climbing the Mount Everest, you always know that there is a finish line. There is a point when you could say “I have reached” or “I have done it”.
But there are several measures of life where you know that the only finish line is ‘death’. In such cases, your goals become ‘moving targets’. That’s where you need to know your stop line and also give up on the standards of maximization, simply because there isn’t any.
Setting Realistic Aspirations
As revealed by one of the responders of the interview conducted by Nora and Howard, the celebrity success standard that you crave for maybe a fairytale. You may have admired just the snapshot and missed the whole picture.
What does that mean? It means we haven’t yet seen the input, the pain and the frustration behind anybody’s success. We don’t even know if our body and soul could adhere to such standards.
Therefore you will have to set your own standards without actually trying to mimic or get into the shoes or shadows of other successful men and women.
Many times, successful people have also realized that no aspiration of theirs is as attractive as it used to be when they were young and actually craved for it, from a faraway distance. Often you may be left with disappointment soon after you have hit your aspiration.
Be cautious when choosing or setting up your goal and ensure that it is in line with your talent and ability. Try and aim for things that give you long-lasting satisfaction and joy.
What True Success Must Give You
The next big question in an aspirant’s mind must be: what real success must offer.
Here’s a guide. This should help you solve the complex thoughts in your mind about success.
Real success must generate these four outcomes in different levels for different people.
Again growth can be achieved in various forms and formats. It could mean innovation, excellence in your field of expertise, personal stretch and others.
- Identifying the most essential things in life
This can be completely different for different individuals. But what is important is to fulfill at least some qualities that you consider as most important or most meaningful for a great life.
- Social Importance
Doing your little to contribute anything valuable to your society or the folks around you that you care for.
- Making an Impact on other people’s life
Any small-big positive impact you can make on other people’s life can be distinguished as a success. Again, this is immeasurable and can extend to different heights for different people.
This Celebrity is a Leading Example of Celebrities who have Tasted Real Success
Clint Eastwood, a popular American filmmaker, musician, actor and politician is a classic example of people who have tasted ‘real success’ in life. The man was known for his appetite for reaching new heights while also maintaining his calmness and composure throughout his life. These qualities won him lasting success all his life. As noticed by most of his interviewers, the actor had a unique quality of keeping things simple, getting the best out of people around him and also doing it in his own way. Along with achieving tremendous success, the actor was also known to enjoy his journey of life. In his own words, Eastwood claims that he wouldn’t be doing what he did, if it did not give him immense joy and fun.
So there it is – An effective and a classic example of true success.
Comparing the old-fashioned Kaleidoscope with the real-life visions
Remember the good-old-days of Kaleidoscope? Perhaps, the 80s kids and the early 90s kids know them better.
Did you know the mechanism of a Kaleidoscope?
The device had a long tube which had four chambers, each sandwiched with colored glasses. These colored glasses combine together to help you form different patterns and fix one that is specifically more pleasing and appealing to you.
Kaleidoscope was a favorite and one of the most creative toys of the yesteryear kids.
Now, compare this fun device with the vision of your life. Just like the Kaleidoscope, your life vision has four layers – happiness, legacy, significance and achievement. Very much like the toy, you can use these layers of life to make your own intelligent creations throughout a lifetime. The aim of life is to make your own and unique pattern that is richer and gives you immense pleasure. It’s a pattern that would distinguish you from other people, help them excel in theirs and also add more meaning to your own life.
The ultimate success lies in topping the chambers of life (Happiness, Legacy, Significance and Achievement) and making your own judgement about your creation.
Like you did during your childhood days, pat on your back for every small-big achievements (patterns in your Kaleidoscope) you have accomplished. Appreciate yourself and feel happy about it. But remember it is always possible to better your last performance (pattern) and it is crucial to look for that improvement all the time.
Sharing your Successor the path to your success with the members in your family
Why chase your aspirations all alone when you could make your experience richer by involving your loved ones?
Try discussing your path to success with your spouse, friends or even your little one. You will be surprised by the number of fresh inputs you could get from your loved ones.
I know several moms and dads who share practical life experiences with their kids but often fail to bring values from their individual success stories.
Among the people interviewed by the two authors, many have stated that they would consider their life successful only if their kids fared well in life.
How true is that? What is the use of all the success in your life if your kids did not do well in theirs?
So in the path of true success, your family has a huge role to play.
When it’s time to reset your focus
Now then, getting back to the four metrics of success.
What do you do when you realize that you have focused too much on one category (say making money) and forgot to concentrate on the others? The answer is simple. This is when you must reboot, reset your focus and start all over again so that you can pay attention to all the four categories equally.
For instance, it may be time to determine how much money is enough to reach your goal. This is the moment of war, a war between your ‘needs and wants’, but you got to win this mind war, and quite handsomely.
Happiness is like our Car Insurance, It needs to be renewed from time to time
Yes, you heard it right. This is an obvious lesson. But often we tend to forget that happiness requires frequent renewal. It is a fading emotion that requires frequent filling up.
Here’s an example. Think of eating a nice and delicious red velvet cake. The first bite is always terrific. You would crave for more. You will have to treat yourself with a few more bites. And, what happens after that? The happiness does not stay with you forever. You will have to renew it, maybe after a few days, if you are health conscious.
On the other hand, it is possible to opt for more sustainable happiness through life habits and hobbies like practicing your favorite guitar after your retirement. The joy of playing the guitar or practicing dance or anything that you are passionate about is more long-lasting than things like a scoop of ice-cream or a chocolate bite.
Where do you find joy or where are your Emotions coming from
Emotions are the best qualities of human beings (Not to say animals don’t have it). But one has to configure them intelligently. Ask yourself these important questions:
- Are you switching between the four categories of success wisely?
- Are all your efforts and emotions being squeezed into one accomplishment?
- Did your accomplishment give you a rich sense of satisfaction?
- Is your happiness coming from a competition?
- Are you feeling the sense of ‘being important’ from your own mastery?
- Do you often enjoy a feeling of dominance from legacy?
The book ‘Just Enough’ highlights how your efforts can go in vain as a result of misdirected emotions. They even illustrate this with a perfect example.
Now think of a super successful celebrity bragging about his charity accomplishments. No surprises at all. Today this has become ‘a new normal’. But on the hindsight why would you have ‘competitive instinct’ in a work of charity? What is the point in winning the title of ‘the best donator’ or one who has raised the highest charity money’?
Surely, the focus shouldn’t be on ‘My Charity Money Versus your Charity Money’. Rather, it should be on helping your donations reaching the right place and the right people. In the word of philanthropy, there shouldn’t be any kind of ego nor does it fall in any business or celebrity success category. One shouldn’t do it to get any kind of attention. They should instead focus on the very purpose of the act.
Judging your Own Capabilities and Capacities Wisely
Sure, you would want to challenge your limits, try things that may be perceived as impossible. But then, it is also true that one’s capability is finite. There is a maximum efficiency level which has to be executed to perfection. But, not adhering to the limits is the reason why most of today’s self-development models fail.
In reality, realizing true success may not be all about enhancing your capabilities. It’s about being realistic and fine-tuning your goal to success. If that’s done right, you may automatically enhance your capabilities even without consciously realizing it. That means, burning yourself out may not be the right way.
Categorizing your Skills Artistically to Bring Meaningful Achievements
You are skillful. There’s no question about that. Now, are you cleverly categorizing your goals to enable them to flourish?
‘Just Enough’ enlightens on how developing your skills starts with acknowledging them. Most individuals have a strong opinion on the idea of ‘true success’. Meaningful achievements can be realized by trickling the signature skills in individuals that actually defines who they really are.
The secret to finding the core skills or the signature skills, as I call it, lies in what activities an individual is most curious or affectionate about.
Here is an example.
Some people have a natural love for numbers. Throw them into the world of math and complex numeric-solving challenges. Likewise, there are folks that enjoy interpreting information and communicating with people. They must try their hands-on business.
Such people will not only come out in flying colors but also enjoy a more satisfying level of success.
The bigger picture here is that your signature skill is what marks your place in this world. The faster you embrace it, the sweeter will be the taste of success.
And yes, be open to failures too.
One good quality of tremendously successful people is their resilience to failure. Failure can actually be a positive insight to your capability and success. Although you may feel out of place during tough times and moments of failures, those are the best times to build more strength and courage.
Your Very own Definition of Achievement may Vary from Time to Time as Years Pass By
Think of this. The value and demand for everything changes with time. A budding aspirant may be able to choose what he wants for the present. The future may be a large empty black hole.
That’s another reason to ensure you have put all your efforts equally for all the four categories of success. Tomorrow’s needs might require minor tweaks and adjustments which you may not be prepared for. Hence it is essential to have the future prospects in mind and also enjoy the journey all the way.
Let’s take the Kaleidoscope for illustration once again. Success in future is very much like making patterns in the kaleidoscope and enjoying the process of making it. You certainly will not spend all your time peeping through the glass of a kaleidoscope; but you will visit it from time to time to make your dream pattern, align the framework and colors.
Why not apply the same idea for more meaningful success in future?
And finally, what is ‘Enough’
One can consider the ‘feeling of enough’ as the essential mediator of life. To put it in better sounding words – the ‘feeling of enough’ is the perfect method to finding a sweet spot between the concrete and the ideal. This sweet spot is certainly not a mediocrity. It is rather an opportunity for different accomplishments of higher standards.
Feeling enough is positive thinking that magnifies the room so that there is more space for higher aspirations. It also means there is more room for more than one aspiration in life. Focusing on different aspirations also lets you enjoy the type of success that enables you to live together in harmony and also enjoy the support of your community.
And that’s about the summary of Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson’s chef-d’oeuvre. So which of the four categories of success would you adopt first? Have you realized that the ultimate happiness of life lies in multiple factors and not in achieving one particular feat? Would you now take along with you your friends, spouse and family members in your journey to success? What other lessons have you picked up from this post?
And yes, do not forget to enjoy every moment of your journey to success. All the best!