Success defies a universal definition. It is a complex paradigm.

On a macro basis, definitions of success differ widely, depending on various factors: social standing, position and timeline in life, ethnicity, economics, geopolitics, etc.

It is necessarily defined both qualitatively and quantitatively. It can be specific to individuals, people, groups of people and populations. Success or failure is often dictated by necessity rather than choice.

More often than not, people define success in terms of wealth accumulation or career success beyond what was likely based on one’s heritage, upbringing, and upbringing. Finally, both in terms of actual and perceived achievements.

It’s best to remember that for many – billions of people – success is simply about having adequate food and shelter. Tragically, for a large subset of these people, success is ordinary sustenance!

For me, I have a rather pedestrian definition. What brings me closest to the definition of success is having options in life. Being able to seek and find satisfaction in life in a way that I want and am able to pursue, and not at the expense of others.

Four pillars of success: the master plan.

    FREE: Everyone in advertising has been told by all the super brains that FREE is the most important word in advertising. Maybe when Aaron Montgomery created the first direct mail catalog. OK: right in the 21st century. Now every offer has a “FREE”. When everything is free, nothing is free! Free has no value. Not a revelation for most consumers; it’s just baked into whatever is sold. Consider the Rolls Royce buyer who is likely to forfeit the purchase if they don’t get a free tank of gas. Although he or she knows they paid for it in spades! So a dealer told me…

    Remember the old maxim: “everyone wants something for nothing”. Wanting and getting – for real – are separate horizons. “FREE” is just a marginal feel-good thing. So overall I think “FREE” is just cheap.

    No Yese have all heard life scientists explain that “NO” is the most important word. Actually, I don’t really know what life scientists are. I expect these people to be graduates, just like the basket weavers. “NOPE!” Most of the time, “NO” is an ordinary, proverbial song and dance.

    It’s a yes ! The only option for those who seek success and are willing to take action and take risks to achieve it. It is the ‘YES’ who bravely step forward while most are looking for reasons to say ‘NO’.

    It’s “YES” people who know that if you are afraid of wolves, it is better not to walk in the forest!* The business forest is inhabited by all kinds of wolves.

    The “YES” people step forward courageously and powerfully in this forest when they see opportunities. Opportunities they can:
    – quantify the potential
    – qualify downward commitments
    Then they put on their big girl or boy skirts and pants, and wade through the trees in pursuit of their goals.

    It is stupid to concede defeat.
    2) It is much easier to fail than to succeed. Understand that all successful people fail often, remarkably, and repeatedly. What they all have in common is that their failures are never due to a lack of effort or belief. Rather: something just conceptually beyond their reach. Churchill had this one on point: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to carry on that counts.”

    My ultimate take on failure – when that gig failed, despite your exhausting homework: Sometimes things that don’t make sense just don’t make sense. Balderdash you say? No. Sometimes, often, your gig has failed because of something conceptually out of your reach. Entirely. Right: There’s that damn shameless research thing. Please read on…

    In my opinion, there are 3 options in life: lead, follow or exit.

    Go out?
    What exactly is the point of that?
    ∙ It is foolish to concede defeat, before even having tried the concert.
    ∙ It is much easier to fail than to succeed. In this case, it is better to anticipate a succession windfall.

    Just get into the flow? To be ordinary? This is your path to darkness. No. No. No. Never be ordinary!

    There are many ways to lead in life and in business. The most elegant way is to be a thought leader. To influence what people think. And more importantly, how they think! It’s the holy grail of leadership!

    Without parenthesizing that, I remain somewhat vague on many things about leadership. Namely, I wrote an article titled: 72 things a leader is not. Maybe a bit of an escape… Well, I hope you’ve read my column titled HOMOGENIZED LEADERSHIP. [Glad to save you the search. Reach out by email or on Linkedin and I will send it to you.]


    ∙ How much homework? Not enough! And when you’re done, make more!
    ∙ Being a shameless researcher fits exceptionally well with most people.
    the willingness, even the eagerness, to share knowledge and provide meaningful assistance.
    ∙ There is no substitute for wisdom on the line of fire. HOWEVER (capitals deliberately): Getting in the line of fire – some less brave talking heads call it “going into the trenches” – without having done all this exhaustive homework, is akin to – sorry – unprotected sex .

    ∙ Out-think? This is rarely, if ever possible! But: give it a legitimate effort. Surprises – shocking surprises? — come in all shapes, forms and sizes, at times that are as unexpected as they are opportune.∙ Out of work? It’s entirely possible. What you must do!

*I apologize to all my ancestors and all righteous people around the world who might read this. It occurred to me that I paraphrased Stalin, of all people. What an astonishing paradox about the wolves and the forests of the second most prolific butcher of humans in history!

Written by Steven J. Manning.
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