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  • Writer's pictureChris Merricks

Success: Accident or Attainment?

Is it enough to simply succeed, or is it better to know why and how we got there in the first place? Chris Merricks discusses success, and the different metrics people use to measure it.

chalk drawing of stick man at top of stairs next to a light bulb

Ahhhhhhhh success.

You don’t even need to be able to prove you have it, these days. A well filtered and philosophically framed post on social media can convince the world that you’re rich, powerful, and no doubt raising the world’s most beautiful (on the inside) children with someone of equally ‘winning at life’ status.

What does success look like?

Let’s focus on the real elements of the stuff though, shall we? I want to talk about how you get to that point where you think, “Yes – I’ve made it, I’m successful.

I’m not necessarily talking about the metrics you use to define success, here – a new car on the drive every month, living your life mortgage-free, offspring managing another year without being shipped off to some kind of secure facility… success really is subjective, and although we all aspire to the social media standards at least in some small way, we all know in our own hearts and minds what success is to us – and when we’ve achieved it.

Topical example: Even if your business has lost clients, staff and money during the past few months of the pandemic, if you’re still trading, you’re immensely successful where many others have not been so fortunate. Is it fortune though, as in mere luck? And if so, is that really enough to claim success?

I guess the question I’m wanting to ask is:

“Is it enough to simply succeed, or is it better to know why and how we got there in the first place?”

I want to be successful as much as the next socially distanced person. I set myself some ‘lights on’ targets that I absolutely have to meet for my own personal and professional satisfaction, and I set myself some stretch targets, too, meaning that I’m essentially in competition with myself to see just how well I can do at something.

Sometimes, I shatter both targets, and I don’t say that to boast, but because sometimes on those occasions I never saw success coming. I guess it’s the flipside to when you work your behind off and still fall on it. Do I still class those haphazard, unexpected and accidental successes as true success, though, or is it only success if it’s earned, understood and when a proper process was followed to get there?

In my own view, much as accidental/incidental success is the easier route, I do like to sit back and look at an achievement and think, “I worked hard for that!” It gives me almost as much pleasure as the outcome itself. Whilst I’m never going to strip myself of success if it came a little too easily or unexpectedly, I have to admit that I don’t revel in those ‘luck more than judgement’ instances quite as much.

I’m keen to hear all the different viewpoints on this one.

Take the win and wear the medal with pride? Or take stock of the situation and vow to work harder, smarter and with more purpose the next time?


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