Marking the measure of success

Kelly Smith

When people talk about success, what people see is only the tip of the iceberg, the final result of all the labor and effort that went into an endeavor. There’s something else about success that, based on my observations, isn’t discussed as much.

Before we understand success, we first must understand what our goals are. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but how are we to know whether or not we’ve been successful if we don’t even know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish in the first place? A project needs to be thoroughly understood in order to determine what successfully meeting the criteria means.

While reviewing graded papers, one of my professors recently said that rubrics do need to be followed, and that going “cowboy” with it won’t do much good. When we start something, we need to have a clear image of success in our minds. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but that’s why taking things one step at a time is the best way to go.

Another issue with success comes when we begin to compare ourselves to others. I realize this isn’t a completely new issue, but it’s something that I’ve found isn’t as addressed as much as it probably should be. With how much we want to be successful in whatever we do in life, it’s so tempting to feel threatened or intimidated by someone who can do the job better than we can.

For instance, someone with an ambition to help those in poverty might feel discouraged if they discover they didn’t reach as many people as someone else did. However, even though they didn’t do as well as someone else, if they still did what they could to help. It’s so easy to become preoccupied with how well we are measuring up to others that we quickly forget the impact we are making with what we are doing.

Something else that might affect the performance of some people is the classic issue of perfectionism. It’s important to remember that success does not mean being perfect because then technically no one would ever be truly successful. Although many people probably don’t struggle with perfectionism too much, I’m sure it affects at least some of us more than we think. When we constantly feel that something isn’t good enough, we spend way too much time trying to make it better. Don’t let perfectionism cause you to doubt yourself to such a degree.

As it is with countless other aspects of life, success is something that requires focus and effort. And when I say focus I mean focus on the right things like the path that’s been laid out for us, and not worrying about how well others are doing or whether or not we’re doing it perfectly. When we stick to the requirements and get the job done right, it’s amazing how much can be accomplished.