So what, I’m satisfied

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My definition of success

Success is something you determine on your own terms. External validation as a requirement is a fool’s game.

Derek Sivers from The Tim Ferriss Podcast:

Derek Sivers: You and I have thought for hundreds or thousands of hours about the concept of success, what it means to be successful. I’m 53 now. I have spent almost 40 years or let’s say 35 years thinking about being successful.

Just a few weeks ago in a podcast interview, somebody asked me, “What’s your definition of success?”

And I said “To me, it’s just achieving what you set out to do. That’s your personal success for that thing. I think it’s very individual.

And he said, “Nothing to do with what other people think of you?”

And I went, “What other people think? No! What?”

And he goes, “Yeah. I think for a lot of people they would define their success through the eyes of others.”

I was like, “Why? Why would anybody?”

And he said, “Wait, you seriously have never considered that?”

To be honest, I probably have. Actually, no, I have. Validation in terms of success through building an audience on Instagram, for example. We look at other people, look at their Instagram accounts or YouTube profiles to see how many followers they have.

As if this defines success.

It may define success for them, and it might feel good for a while, but it is just one vanity metric in a long line of vanity metrics. It may lead to more money, but that in turn doesn’t turn the dial. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t turn the dial in life satisfaction.

My definition of success is probably pretty close to what Derek Sivers says: achieving what you set out to do. But I would add ‘and being satisfied by it’. Not wanting to add more, but accepting your standing, and being ok with it. That way when someone else does something extraordinary that you yourself could have done, you can say to yourself ‘so what, I’m satisfied’.

The problem with this is that it can be rather unambitious. Once you’ve reached a point, it’s easy to become complacent. I like to keep a mixture of satisfaction with a mixture of hunger, as Steve Jobs famously put it.



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