Have you created a definite image of what success would look like for your life? Absolutely everyone is seeking further success in some way or another, but only those who create a solid, clear, and concise plan of action will do so.
The musician wants to be more skilled at his craft and gain a bigger audience. The head-chef wants to finally be the owner of his own restaurant. The new mother wants to know the best ways to raise her child.
Other than a small degree of luck, correct planning and action will be the deciding factor for the level of success in their lives.
We must, moment to moment, try our best to act accordingly to what will create further success in important areas of our lives.
But how do we decide what actions to plan? How do we guarantee that these actions are the ones that will actually better our lives?
This article has 3 ideas that will help you reflect on your purpose, and uncover your best course of action.
Success is Scarcity
The scarcity principle in economics is a result of humans replicating a natural mechanism that happens in nature – sort of like how we looked at birds and made an airplane, or how we made camera lenses after the eye ball.
Simply put, the appeared value of an item (the price) goes up when there is more demand than supply. This is how we determine the price of resources, goods and services. For humans, this feels natural to us – to let the collective, if you will, decide value through demand.
This principle is applied when we determine the value of individuals in a community.
Of course, we don’t have price tags on each of us… but we do have incomes and levels of social currency in the form of relationships. For social creatures, we see the scarcity principle happen in our group dynamics.
There is only 1 male lion in a pride. There is only 1 male gorilla in a troop. There can only be 1 alpha in a pack of wolves. Only 0.02% of people that play Hockey will ever make it into the NHL.
This “social system” adaption is important to how mammals work in a group.
It makes sense that the DNA in every one of these animals contains instincts that pull them towards this kind of social system – urging the group to push 1 or few of its members to higher esteem.
Now, social dynamics within the system allow the appointment of these highly-rewarded leaders in their community so that the system works.
The last time you felt awe in the presence of a professional athlete or celebrity… When you felt nervous around your boss… or snapped pictures of a Ferrari that drove by… you are experiencing your genetics pulling you towards the correct way to behave within your group.
Scarce, high-value individuals have better treatment. They receive more rewards in the form of money and relationships.
Admittedly, there is something undeniable about that person that is well-liked and also competent. There is an aura around him.
The world opens up for him. It seems as though every one wants to spend time with him. There are people that are jealous of him. He has power. He has influence.
We can deduct that one of the most important indicators that a person is successful is that there just isn’t many others like him.
While, of course, this is due to inherent genetic traits that are scarce in nature, there is no denying that day to day behavior and actions can also be made “scarce”.
Keep this in mind, when you want to take the weekend off like everyone else… or binge the latest season of whatever on the weekend like everyone else. Being successful means you are not like everyone else.
We can intentionally replicate scarcity in doing high-value actions that many people neglect. These things can be simple…
As a basketball player you can stay an hour after every practice, after everyone else has left, and work on your weak shot zones. An engineering student can decide to start eating food that is good for his brain and sleep an adequate amount every day while his peers party and eat a college student’s diet.
A sales person can strategically increase his networking activities every month while everyone else stays complacent in their lead generation.
Go extra, or do something that requires more effort…. and create scarcity.
Success is Responsibility
If you play for bigger stakes, you have more to lose.
I have always thought of the glamorization of success as just a marketing ploy. Because, over time, it’s become obvious that more than anything, self-importance usually means more responsibility
The awe you experience, star-strucked in front of this high-value person serves only to select this person among the group to be cherished. Your desire to achieve this status is just an instinct to keep you chasing his position. Our resentment and jealousy for these people is just false expectations of utopia upon reaching this success.
There is no utopia.
The millions of fans still fail to impress the rock star, who finds himself depressed and jaded further down his career. The millionaire wall street banker jumps off a building when his high stakes game fails. A beautiful and famous model develops an eating disorder.
Not only do bad things keep happening, when all-eyes are on him, there is a lot more pressure in the form of social expectations. Not even diamond rings and mansions offer relief when he fails to meet these expectations.
Now that the group has self selected its leader through many instincts like behaviors of awe and admiration, it also bestows upon him an unreasonable amount of responsibility.
Evidence of this is in the proclivity of western society to lift a celebrity to unimaginable heights but at the same time hold him to seemingly impossible standards. Negative, but seemingly innocuous activities and behaviors are heavily criticized. The mob can’t accept that these appointed members of society have any of the vices that us normal folk have. The excuse to lash out in jealousy and resentment is too tempting.
You can argue that there are more expectations in our leaders than there is admiration of them. Musicians are harassed all the time for taking too long to produce an album. Former actors are ridiculed when they are seen working at a regular job.
At the very least, we are very quick to switch the narrative from fame to shame when we sense weakness in those who are high in status.
It’s a waste of time to be jealously resentful of those who are highly rewarded.
Especially in the west where the average person lives like royalty compared to 98% of the world anyway. On the grand scheme, “successful” people live slightly higher quality lives while bearing immense responsibility.
Rather than test-drive a Rolls Royce, take on more responsibility and you will likely have a better taste of what it is like to be successful.
No matter where you find yourself on your path towards your goals you can voluntarily take on more responsibility while pursuing them. Even if you’re an aspiring full-time writer, but work a day job in middle management, you can take on clients and deadlines.
Even taking on responsibilities that are outside of your purpose can benefit you. Volunteer to drive someone to work. Or, to mow the lawn for your aging neighbor every week. You will be become more disciplined, and when the time comes to take action within your purpose, you will increase the chances that you can execute them.
Success is Culture
Success is relative. Look at the ascetic life of a Buddhist monk. For the Buddhist monk, success means self-contentment, inner peace, and tranquility.
In contrast to this, there is the aspiring CEO of an established start-up. He is making 6 figures a year as a junior executive, but still vying for the top dog position. Only when he reaches that goal will he describe himself as successful.
In your journey, take time to reflect upon the influence your culture has on what you deem success.
Are you trapped in a situation where your indicators of success are determined by other people?
This whole time, you might not have been comparing yourself to the right milestones. Especially in the beginning phases of your life, where those who were around you are just there because of circumstance. You don’t choose your environment when you are young. You don’t choose your culture.
Perhaps your ideas of success are not even rational. Let’s say you’re not living in-the-moment and being content and peaceful because you’re 5’5 and you want to be in the NBA. What a waste. There are other paths that can offer a more fulfilling taste of success.
Perhaps you have personal strengths that pull you towards a path that your culture has deemed unworthy or inappropriate.
Rather than live a life of mediocrity, by pursuing the culturally acceptable route, you must decide to do the difficult thing of breaking off and playing towards your strengths so you can experience excellence.
Maybe success in your life will simply be the breaking out of your immediate influences and pursuing your dreams. That’s a start, at least.
Embark on a quest to be honest and defend what your personal meaning of success is, and there is a much higher chance that you will actually reach it. Eventually you will find those who are more aligned with your culture. They will be attracted to you because you have fought to be with them.
Furthermore, your passions will hone your creativity so you can make a plan that only you can make. A plan that will bring you, as an individual, to higher degrees of success.
In case you find yourself in a rut, repeating the same poor decisions, these 3 ideas will help you be create a plan of action for the next phase of your life.
These 3 ideas should uncover the realities of what needs to be done in your life to reach more success. These realities, which are often ignored, dooming the average person to repeat the same ol’ life while expecting to have a better one, are those which you will face head-on.
You will, then, find out what success means to you.