Great news! Next week I will be giving a number of individuals feedback on their Motivational Map. If you don't know what this is have a look at the video in my earlier posts entitled 'What motivates you?' But essentially 'Your Motivational Map' is a professional service where I help make visible what makes you 'tick', and I give you feedback on how increase your effectiveness in your career, relationships and personal growth.
So if you, a family member, or someone else you know someone:
- want greater motivation, and focus in their specific projects or work.
- want to get further clarity around career direction.
- want help trouble shooting ongoing communication problems in relationships
...Then I'd love to hear from you! Next week Friday Jan 15th and Saturday 16th, I will be offering 'pay-what-you-can' sessions to help you with some of the kinds of issues listed above. These sessions take place in person, however they can take place over the phone, for those of you who aren't based in London.
If want to know more, read the feedback from people I've worked with, by clicking on, and scrolling through the link below!
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
You'll recall that in my last post I laid out a set of so-called 'ingredients' that I felt could best lead to personal success in young people; those things that I think have the greatest potential to empower young people to be and do better in life. I referenced the 7 ingredients of business success, identified by Nigel Maclennan, and highlighted the important idea that the ingredients of success are tied to their objective.
Which leads me to the point of this post - what kind of success are you trying to create, and how will you know it's been worth all the hard work? Or simply put, what is it that you really want out of life?
Huge question, but important one nonetheless!
Let's take the idea of success for a moment. I won't get too technical over literal definitions of success, partly because I'm no scholar on the matter, but also because success clearly isn't just one thing: we all define the parameters of success in ways which make sense to our own lives.
I'm sure we can, however, agree that there are perhaps two broad ways of looking at success - as process and/or product (outcome). What I mean is, we might like Apple or Google, say that we've created a successful product, or we may say that we've achieved a successful outcome in one area or another. This is a sort of static, "I've arrived view" of success, if you like. And to some extent there's nothing wrong with this, as such. But if you thought about it long enough, I think you'd find that you never really arrive, do you? There's always the next step, the next unexplored territory, the next challenge to take up.
So in this way, inherent in anyone's definition of success, should be, I think, the idea of ongoing development, learning and growth; an attitude that says we are always in the process of becoming successful
Secondly, for some life is simply a matter of 'being happy', and here we need to distinguish between the two kinds of happiness that we often refer to. There is the transitory-state-type 'happiness', which is by nature, rather fleeting - it comes and goes, like the tides on the shore. And to allow this 'mood' arena to dictate our lives is to end up beleaguered by its capricious effects. What I mean is, there are times in a relationship, or at work, for example, where one may not 'feel' happy, but given the passage of time and a dopamine fix perhaps, the cloud of unhappiness abates, for a short while, only to be aroused again by the next displeasing scenario! This is clearly an unsatisfactory, and disempowering cycle which in the long run leaves us frustrated towards life.
But then there is the happiness that exists at a deep, spiritual level, if you like - a kind of permeating 'life-joy', where we experience fulfilment, purpose and meaning. And it is perhaps this, that most of us refer to, when we speak of 'happiness' as success.
So back to the question I posed at the start: what is it that you really want out of life? Is it simply to be happy, to complete your goals, or do you long for something far richer and transformational? The Ralph Waldo Emerson quote above does set a high bar, but his view of success is a holistic one nonetheless.
For me, when my life draws to its end, I want:
- to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing I've done the best at what I'm best at, and through this, to have added value to others
- I want to have raised children who are ready to change the world for the better and I want to have helped my wife be all that she can be
- I want to have learned what it really means to 'walk in love'
- I want a life infused with fun and play and I want to have written music and created content that releases a little bit of 'heaven' on earth.
- Finally, I want to have lived a life of faith, and to have never completely given up hope, even when faced with foreboding and despair.
Plenty of wants, and a few lofty ideals to boot, but then again, I am a bit of an idealist! If I don't achieve them all, will I feel less successful? Perhaps - I guess only time will tell!
To conclude then, what has become clear over these last two posts, is that our values are made manifest whenever we begin to talk about what we really want. Laying out ultimate life aims such as these are, is far from a simple exercise in prescription, which some may fear has the potential to take the 'fun' out of life. On the contrary, I've found this empowering and a process that has helped me live life with greater intentionality.
Now that we're approaching the end of 2015, this is an opportune time to reflect on our life aims, and prepare for what will hopefully be a new year that we can live out intentionally. So why not reflect on where you are right now by considering the following question:
If your life was a marathon - what mile mark would you be at? Are you ahead? Is it a nail-biter? Are you at the point where you wanna give up?
Maybe you're not competitive, in which case what analogy could you use to describe what life is like for you right now, and more importantly, where are you or how are you doing in this analogy?
Go on, have a go. I'd love to read your responses in the comments box below.
Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all everyone reading a safe and peaceful Christmas, and a joyous New Year.
May the genuine hope, peace and joy of this special season, renew us all. May it remind us what it means to be human, joined as we are by a desire for a better world. May it show us the way forward in 2016.
As a former teacher with two children of my own, it's hard not to spend large portions of my time thinking about what the future will look like for those I have the pleasure of raising. Not to mention, what might best help them succeed amidst the crazy challenges ahead! So, recently I began to consider what a healthy set of 'life ingredients' might be for young people, ones that could best help them lead a successful life (in the broadest sense of the word).
Parent or not, I'm sure we've all wished at some point during our lives, that the secrets of life could be distilled into a simple to use formula: 'In a relationship with a difficult partner?' 'Important decisions to make?' Well, so the logic would follow, if we could turn to a manual of some sort, follow the instructions, them 'poof!' - problem solved. If only! It goes without saying that life is more interesting than that; alas there are no magic wands.
And of course how one defines, or further, measures 'success', is another question altogether, one that I'll pick up on in part 2 of this post, but suffice to say I think most would agree that success is simply a matter of 'doing/being well', and what this looks like differs from person to person.
That said, if we think about success in terms of work, business coach and leading performance consultant Prof. Nigel Maclennan actually identified 7 important ingredients, or enablers, of business success: direction; desire and motivation; self-image; belief structure; persistence; a willingness to learn; and support systems.
Importantly, Maclennan goes on to say that: There is no absolute prescription [emphasis added] for successful performance. Of course, the ingredients are influenced by what kind of success you want to create...[and] The ingredients of success are tied to the objective; the recipe is your choice.
So being a successful entrepreneur, for example, would neccesarily require you to understand your users; test your ideas; be confident in your service or product etc. These are 'ingredients' that most would deem important. You may not like the 'recipe', but the bottom line is that we do tend to have a good grasp of what works in business, don't we? Well, what then, 'works' or is important for preparing young people to live fruitful, successful lives?
[Before you scroll down, have a think about this question?]
With this in mind, here are a selection of 9 'ingredients', far from exhaustive, but ones that I think are important for us to provide young people with:
1. Acceptance: Provide young people with access to caring adults who say 'I love you'; will lead by example; will accept them for who they are, but will also challenge them towards what they could be!
2. Decision making: Help young people see that life is full of choices and that hidden behind every choice, is a consequence, good or bad (thanks David Murray).
3. Life partner: I am convinced that who we choose to be our soul mate / life partner, or still, the friends we allow in our inner circle, can have the biggest effect on whether we live a successful life or not.
4. Money management: Help young people understand 'value' and by extension, money: how to save it, invest it, and spend it!
5. High expectations: Have high expectations of young people. But more importantly remember that a high expectation without a plan is simply a hope. It is a statement of what we wish for. Expectations, in my view, should be accompanied by 'a strategy', which is empowering, and enables young people to realise this hope. Without a strategy, so to speak, high expectations can too easily feel like unreachable, burdensome goals. But both are needed to best help young people grow.
6. Character: Help young people cultivate the inner, 'spiritual' aspects of life: love, belief, forgiveness, self-control, integrity etc. Those things that add meaning to our lives, and to life more generally.
7. Power resources: Help young people access 'resources of power'. The 12 step AA programme reminds us that there is, naturally, a limitation to our own 'power' - our own will and agency, if you like. Allied to this reality, is that we get to operate out of a greater power base, when connected to something bigger than ourselves. This might be a cause, a project, a great team or even a personal faith!
8. Service/Responsibility: Create in young people a sense of service and personal responsibility - provide opportunities to learn how they can their talents into strengths. (Shameless plug, here's one great example of this)!
9. Self-awareness: Lastly, as the popular aphorism goes - know thyself. Help young people learn what motivates them - what their E-factor's are! This is more than mere knowledge of self. It's also connected to the idea of possessing a 'growth mindset' (to use the current buzzword) that enables us to, for example, learn from failure: rather than fear failure, we realise that not being in a position to fail, is really not being in a position to succeed.
Which ones resonate with you? I'm not wedded to these. In fact, some of these ingredients clearly overlap with Maclennan's. Importantly, as with anything of value, they all represent a journey, an on-going process and not (despite the title) a one-time pill that you 'administer' to people.
That said, what would your own ingredients be, and why?
As Maclennan describes, young or old, we have to work out our own 'recipe' for achieving personal success. In fact, if you wrote a separate list for each young person you knew, it would likely look quite different.
Finally, if we listen to what Self-determination Theory (SDT) tells us, then as human beings, we have three innate psychological needs: achievement of competence, relatedness with others and autonomy. These three things make up a kind of set of 'protective factors', ie meeting them on a regular basis, can help to 'protect' us against personal dissatisfaction, and provide us with a direct source of motivation. And motivation is, of course, the vital aspect behind any successful endeavour!
So have a look at the ingredients you came up with, do they tap into these three needs? If you have children or work with young people, what do they think are the ingredients that can help promote personal success?
Look out for part 2 of this post in the coming weeks, I'll delve a little more into the topic of success, as well as happiness and the connection to our own values.