How to find success

Day-trekking north of Cusco to 4500m hills.
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‘How to have a successful life / career’ has been a closing conversation across our podcast ‘Real People.’ The discussions have meandered through the highs and lows of their unique lives. While their lives have been disparately unique there are some consistencies when taking a helicopter view of the guests. These are pretty remarkable people with much ‘success.’

Five tips for a successful life from our podcast guests …

  1. They are innately curious, even child like

This may be a fascination with science or how the world works, other cultures, everything. Peter Joy discussed how his successful career in marketing and understanding people came back to curiosity.

“I think I retained that sense of inquisitiveness into adulthood, and I’m just a big kid really at heart, and I retain a kind of idealism that things can be changed for the better as well, which is a childlike characteristic that I’ve continued into adulthood.” Tim Jarvis AM

2. They are global citizens and embrace opportunities

Alan Noble’s fascination for Japanese language and culture inspired him to start his career in Tokyo in the early days of AI, then off to Silicon Valley. Damian Scanlon shared his traveling adventures, including buying a one way ticket to London as a young lad, travelling through Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and nearly dying from Typhoid in India.  Dr Elviria Fischer grew up in Austria, was an Olympic Swimmer, in her mid-20’s she headed to UCLA to study Neuroscience. The general feedback has been don’t be in a rush to great a career. Explore the world, opportunities and following wherever it may flow. 

3. They have good days and bad

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An interesting life isn’t safe and simple. It comes with ups, downs, swings and roundabouts, and one of the key ingredients to a successful life is accepting and even embracing impermanence. In the interview with Kristina Dryža we discuss going with the flow of the rivers we travel and the waves we all surf. And, how leaders often wish for simple solutions to fundamentally broken cultures. Many of our guests had good times at school and others not so good as they questioned their uniqueness. Critically, the bad times may successful people stronger.

“The people I know who are the most successful have rarely had everything in their life go right. The one’s who are really successful have had a couple of really horrific experiences that they’ve learnt from. It’s what’s made them better business people, or investors, or whatever the case might be. They’re the people you want involved in your next venture if it has a tough time. The people who have only had great things happen to them are going to be pretty useless when your company has the tough times.” Dr Elaine Stead

4. They embrace their positive uniqueness

Often successful people perceived they were different, unique from what they observed in others. Some embraced their cultural and other differences. Some used it as a motivation to follow their quirky interests. Such uniqueness often built comfort in following a road less traveled. 

“Be proud of your positive uniqueness, embrace it.”
André Noël Chaker

“Having a very clear understanding of yourself and where you want to be in your own life, and having the self determination and the resourcefulness to understand you can achieve those goals. And, get out there and do it!” Robert Tercek

5. They are more so focused on the stories of others than their own

Following your passion in life is often a critical path to a level of self actualisation, and makes it just a bit easier dealing with the shit that can come with any journey. Critical, is the most fulfilling stories are those one has contributed to as a leader, friend or family member. It is hard if not impossible to achieve any level of success without the support of others. Most of guests discussed various angles on building strong teams with a clear shared vision.Kim Boehm discussed building a strong creative culture in this ever changing and transient workforce and much more. Stephen Scheeler (Facebook) and Alan Noble (Google) shared insight in to the investment in building strong cultures to achieve success.

Below is a section of something Jason wrote a few year back

“To me ‘success’ is about living a story worth telling. My story, will be different to your story, which will be different to the story of others. The story is likely to have many dimensions — family, friends, career, journeys and more. And, it will cover a wide range of emotions — happy, sad, scared and hopefully contentment. Ultimately, a successful story comes from within, but leaves others with happy memories, and has many more than one character.

A successful story rolls into the story of others. Parents pass their story onto their children, who in turn have their own stories to tell. Friends play a critical roll in the stories of friends. Workmates play a role in the stories of their workmates. The most successful of stories splinter into many more stories of the lives of family, friends, workmates and even the broader community.

My random mind wanderings as to the meaning of success bring me back to this: a success story of any man or woman is less about that one man or woman and more about the stories they have been part of as a parent, friend, auntie, uncle, sibling, child, workmate, leader, follower et cetera.

Success is about being selfless more than selfish. Having a laugh, much more than you have a grump. Avoiding nasty people, but realising that their nastiness is a massive lesson in itself (mostly to avoid nasty people). Be nice and work hard at work, at play and at home. It isn’t easy to have a successful life, whatever that means.

And, stop procrastinating — life’s short.

The world needs more success stories.” (More >)

In this increasingly ego driven ‘social influencer’ guided world, often the search for success is about fame and ‘me.’ Perhaps some are getting it wrong and may benefit from being more curious, embrace opportunities and their positive uniqueness and accept there will be days good and bad. Importantly, be more selfless and contribute to the stories of other.