The Value of Success
4:27pm Friday 18th May 2012 in Young Reporter
What do you picture when you think of “success”? A big office with a salary that reads like a phone number? Or is it perhaps something less obvious – more time at home, flexible working hours and a happy family? Success means different things for different people but it seems that more and more of us are rejecting the usual status symbols and creating our own definitions; be it “having choices” or “loving friendships”. Success seems to be more about balance; feeling content and challenged, at work and at home. High salaries are no longer the be all and end all, it seems, as people are choosing meaning over money and control over status. Success should not be a life consumed by stress and other people’s agendas – that would leave the “successful” wretchedly miserable. There is more to life than financial rewards so the high salaries just don’t cut it anymore. A meaningful career is less about title and promotion, more about the ability to lead and take ownership of work. There is nothing glamorous or fun about a job, however interesting or powerful, which sucks up so much of your time and energy that it leaves no time for a life. High-earners are turning away from corporate life in search of more time to exercise, to be happier and more fulfilled. For example, Anthony Thompson (former managing director of George, Asda’s successful own-brand clothing line) turned down a CEO position at a high-flying company and instead chose to work at Fat Face, the surf brand. Why? Well, he now swims in the sea every morning before cycling into work wearing shorts and flip flops rather than a city suit. He says he’s the happiest he’s ever been. Clearly, success is personal. But it’s also relative. For many students across the nation, getting more than five pass grades at GCSE level is an achievement. Here at Tiffin Girls’ School, we strive to be the best and are sometimes satisfied with no less. This is perhaps because we are surrounded by extraordinarily intelligent people and so we lose perspective of how truly great our individual achievements are. We are fabulously ambitious and work our fingers to the bone. But impressive though this is, it does not guarantee success because real success is a well-rounded life, a life with hobbies, interests, family and friends. All the pieces have to work or nothing works. Not only this, but we are occasionally fearful of making a mistake, thinking it an indication of weakness. In fact, “successful failures” are arguably the most admirable achievers as they persevere, determined to learn from their mistakes and make it better next time. Successful people will experiment with new things and new ideas; they will try and try until it comes right. Bill Gates once said that “it's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
For me, success is endeavouring to exceed expectations, to go the extra mile. I certainly do not care how my success is perceived from the outside. What matters most is that I am proud of my own triumphs, that I am doing something intellectually interesting and then balancing this work with something more relaxed or more fun. What is success if it leaves you no time to have a life you want to live? It seems to me that success is being redefined, reassessed and we are disengaging from the traditional ideas of “salary success”, and instead moving towards “personal pride”. Success on your own terms is success indeed.