I spent my life wanting to succeed. I tried a lot of different things, took many different approaches, and studied a variety of subjects – all in my efforts to become successful.
Let me start by asking you this – What is success? What does it mean to be successful?
From a textbook standpoint success is defined as accomplishing of a goal or goals – or, accomplishing some purpose in life.
That’s easy enough. I’ll end this blog post right now.
Actually, I won’t end it because defining success is only part of the whole when it comes to being a success or being successful.
A sense of self-fulfillment is also necessary. If you do not find an achievement as fulfilling, then it means very little to you, and will not make you successful – at least not in your own mind. Now that’s the key point here. “In your own mind.” If you can’t see it, then it’s not real for you. You really need to ask yourself whether you want to be fulfilled and feel success, or do you want others to see you as successful – maybe you want both.
I want to discuss both; however, from my point of view, self-fulfillment is far more important than the way others perceive you. I think that’s probably one of the biggest problems with celebrities and other public figures. I think they care more about pleasing their audience than themselves. Usually we read about the outcome as additions, actions that illustrate very poor judgement, and, unfortunately, sometimes with suicides.
This is not just isolated to famous people. It happens all the time outside the spotlight – most people don’t learn about it like they do about celebrities.
So what does it take to be truly successful?
From my experiences, it takes focus. Very simple in words…very difficult in practice. So, what do I mean by focus? I’ll explain.
If you can find one thing…just one thing that you are good at, then you are on the right road to success, and ultimately self-fulfillment. It actually doesn’t even have to be something you are good at – it just needs to be something you can do, or something you are willing to do.
Once you find that one thing…run with it. Don’t become distracted by other interests…don’t become discouraged when others try to steer you in a different direction…and, above all else, don’t give up or quit.
Let me give you some examples from my life experiences.
I own a few dozen websites. Each website is attached to a separate, different business. Most of them are in the same niche, but not all of them. I have quite a variety of projects going on – all at the same time.
I started with two websites and two businesses. I was making good money, but some of my competitors were involved in other ventures. So, I, thinking I was just being competitive, branched out into several additional directions. Before I knew it, I had twelve websites, twelve separate business, and about thirty different headaches.
With just some small changes, I lost my focus. My income stayed about the same, but I was now juggling a bunch of websites, and I had to hire others to help with operations and research and website maintenance.
Again, I caught a glimpse of some competitors doing “more” than I was doing. I branched off again, this time ending up with more than thirty websites – I actually couldn’t keep up. I hired people…I carried twenty-three cell phones with me…but my personal income jumped up dramatically.
I was working twenty-four hours a day. I only slept when I actually passed out from exhaustion for an hour here or there. I was also very disconnected from my family. Every time someone from my family came into my office, I pretended to listen to them, then I gave them some money and asked them to leave.
Everyone – family, neighbors, friends – thought I was very successful. I actually believed I was successful because I had a lot of money and expensive things. To be honest, I was so out of focus with, not only myself, but with the world around me. I look back and see that during that time period, I traveled to three different countries, attended a family member’s funeral, and attended two weddings – I remember none of it.
My saving grace is I didn’t turn to drugs. If I had gone over the deep end, I would not have found my way back.
One day I just stared into my laptop and wondered when I bought it. I know that sounds trivial, but I couldn’t remember when, or where I got my computer. I tracked down my wife and asked her and she chuckled and told me it was more than three years old. When I returned to my desk, I saw the spread-out of cell phones surrounding my computer – each of them chiming with text messages, missed phone calls, and voicemail alerts.
I ignored the phones and put my head on my desk. I fell asleep and awoke in my bed several hours later. I got out of bed and instinctively went back to my desk. I started going through all the missed calls and messages. I couldn’t believe where I was in my life.
Surprisingly, I didn’t accept that wake up call. I continued being “successful” for another year before passing everything off to other people and focusing on what I considered most important to me. I made the decision myself and that was the hardest part. I had heard and read for years about how important it is to focus, but I ignored that advice.
If you ever wonder why some of the happiest people are truly happy, you might consider how they lead their lives – Do they have their hands in everything, or are they focused?
My wife’s parents are very happy. They don’t have a lot of money, but they have enough; yet, they are completely fulfilled and happy. Looking at their lives, I see they learned very early to stay focused. They are both experts at what they do. They don’t necessarily always enjoy it, but they chose a path and stuck to it.
You can see examples everywhere – if you look hard enough. The most successful people aren’t always the one’s with the most money, they are the one’s that do their thing without attempting to do everything.
Don’t get me wrong about the money issue – there is a lot to be said about having a lot of money. It’s not the money that matters as much as it is the path that gets you there.
Back to me.
I have a lot of experience in my life – I was an attorney, an engineer, a military officer, an executive director, and a business owner. During each chapter of my life, I had periods of incredible success. It was only when I strayed from my focus that I lost that feeling of being fulfilled – I never considered myself successful, because when I strayed, I lost track of what I was really doing and who I really was. Even when I was making good money, I was unhappy, very stressed, and difficult to be around.
At present, I am in a better place. I have remained focused for a decade, and I feel as successful as other people see me as. Not everything is perfect, of course, but I know what I do, who I am and where I am going.
That’s my experience with how important focus is when it comes to being truly successful.
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