The only success that matters, Andrew Bruskin writes, is the success that matters to you.
I write my first blog post on ‘success’ for several reasons. The first reason is because of the male gender role and the concept of masculinity. No matter who you ask in today’s society, all men want to be successful. While they have differing visions of what success means to them, men share similar reactions should they not become successful. Whether this failure is real or perceived, they often become frustrated, depressed and angry. Success for many men is often a life or death process, which is why this topic commands our urgent attention. I write to address some of these frustrations and what us guys can do to help ourselves and other men.
The notions of ‘success’ are something that extend beyond masculinity and are universal in all people. While ‘success’ can be measured differently for everyone, there is a general definition of what ‘success’ is. Success is when a person reaches his/her personal goal(s) and is content with who he/she is are as a person. You do not have to be financially wealthy or famous to be successful. Some may be successful if they start a family, while others may find success if they receive a college education, engage in volunteer work, or start and grow a business. Above all, no one can tell you what success is. Because of how fluid the word ‘success’ is, not all tips may be important for you, but all tips are universally important to people collectively.
I start with this because patience lays the foundation of success. While it is true that patience is a virtue, it is also a requisite it if you want to become successful. While patience is a necessity, it is also crucial that a person be able to control their emotions—especially anger—if they want to succeed in life and maintain healthy relationships with other people. For most people, success is not something that develops overnight. The same rings true for successful friendships, marriages and successful workplaces.
Remember this: we live in a world where people need other people to become successful. This dynamic applies equally to both genders. Interdependence, not independence, is the benchmark for success. Because of this, you will need to master your emotions and develop patience when dealing with other people.
#6—Have Courage and Take Calculated Risks
Courage is a quality people are not born with, but are taught. Both courage and risk taking, however, are qualities that set the successful person apart from the rest of the pack. When I say ‘risk taking’, I do not mean ‘foolhardiness.’ People often confuse the two and lump them both together. Nor do I mean a person should engage in risks that will result in grievous physical or financial harm. This is why all risks should be calculated based on the potential loss and gain of such a venture. Questions that people may ask themselves when an opportunity comes along include: “should I invest some of my money and start a business or continue with my day job?” “Should I run for political office or wait a few more years?” Making the right decision is often crucial.
Remember this: life is short. We are only on this earth for a short amount of time. While men are often taught courage and taking risks, these are qualities that women can use to their advantage, too. In fact, many of our prominent female business leaders and political figures took calculated risks and displayed courage when they started a successful business or decided to run for political office.
#5—Help Someone Else—Help Yourself
Wealthy individuals often engage in philanthropy. This act of charity not only helps other people, but it makes the giver feel better about themselves with the knowledge that they are making the world a better place. The notions of ‘good will’, ‘karma’ and other epithets that describe ‘goodness’ all center around helping other people in order to feel good about yourself. While people often feel philanthropy is reserved for wealthy individuals, the fact is anyone can engage in charitable causes. In order to be successful, you should also be giving something back to the community too, whether it be money, time or a service.
Having mentors is extremely important. While this tip goes hand in hand with networking, this is slightly different. When you network, many of your contacts may be casual acquaintances or colleagues of mutual friends. A mentor is a more personalized relationship who can offer advice and guidance to their mentee. Usually, the mentor is more established in a certain field. Even if you are considered an ‘expert’, it is still important to develop mentor relationships with other people.
#3—Network, Network, Network!
I can’t stress networking enough. The people you associate with are often the determining factor to whether you will succeed in your given field. If you associate with the wrong people, they will influence your behavior, your personality and even your thought process. It is imperative, therefore, that you become friendly with not only the individuals who are successful, but to know the individuals who are more successful than you are.
Remember this: no matter what stage of life you are in, it is always crucial to expand your network. The more people you know, the more opportunities you will have. Your network will have an impact on your job title, your social status and even your self esteem! People often find their mate through their mutual friends, too. With facebook, LinkedIn and a multitude of other social media websites, networking is easier than ever.
#2—Have Defined Goals
Nothing is more important if you want to become successful than to set goals for yourself. Some examples include, “I want to start a candy store by the age of 30” or “I will graduate from college by 24.” Setting an age is important because this compels you to act on your goal and avoid procrastination. Once you define what your goals are, then you need to detail how you are going to reach them. All of these other tips help you when you detail your plan of attack. For example, if one of your goals is to get a job with an investment bank, then you will want to adhere to tip #3 (“Network!, Network!, Network!) and befriend an investment bank recruiter. This can be done through identifying who these recruiters are and introducing yourself to them, for example, on a social media website. If you wish to climb the corporate ladder, then you will need to befriend someone in the company who holds a higher position than you do and develop a mentor relationship with them (Tip #4: Have Mentors.) If you are a business owner, then you will need to plan on how you will expand your clientele base. Once you define your goals, these other tips will assist you.
The bottom line: it is pertinent to have goals and make a plan on how to reach them. Should you fail to establish goals for yourself, you will start to drift aimlessly. It will not matter who you know because you will either pass up opportunities or hop from job to job. You will be unhappy. Having a purpose in life is extremely important not only for your well-being, but also for your identity.
#1—Get A College Degree
In light of the recent economic doldrums facing our country, some pundits will suggest that receiving a college degree is not worth what it used to be. I could not disagree more. In order to really succeed in this world, both men and women must be able to graduate from college. Getting an education is number one for a reason. A person can follow all of the other tips found in this article, but without a degree, most doors will remain closed. This is not true 100% of the time; there ARE business savvy individuals who have become very wealthy without a college degree. These individuals are mainly the ones who have started successful businesses. A select few enter the entertainment industry as actors, actresses, singers and professional athletes. They are the minority. For the remainder who choose not to attend college, most will end up with low paying jobs and lack the opportunity to become financially successful. Some will be content with this choice for various reasons, but most will not.
There are individuals who will no doubt read this and contest the point about getting an education as a valid measure of success. Some will point out that college is not for everybody. Others will say that receiving a college degree is out of the question for many poor families who cannot afford the high tuition. Both of these points are valid. For some, trade schools help more than a college degree.
For the individuals who cannot afford a college education, there are MANY schools out there who give scholarships to those in need. Community colleges and state schools are also a great option, as they provide a great education at a bargain price. The other option are student loans, which is something many students will need even if they are given scholarships. Again, choosing a school is just as important as the decision to attend college. If you are not independently wealthy and can’t afford a private school, it makes much more sense to attend a state school or a community college that has affordable rates. In the end, you will receive a top notch education and save money to boot.