"Success? I don't know what that word means. I'm happy... For me, success is inner peace. That's a good day for me." Denzel Washington
It was guilty pleasure night and I was watching, “What ever happened to...”
The topic was reality stars.
I watched with fascination. I had heard of a couple of of them, but the others had come and gone without even hitting my radar screen They were literally overnight sensations. Here was a group of individuals who blasted out of nowhere and reaped fame, fortune and notoriety. They lived lavishly, walked the red carpet and captivated their fans.
They got what they wanted.
And then they flamed out into obscurity, unable to adapt to change.
They chased short term success and it was career ending.
Normally, I would sit back smugly and think, “THAT would NEVER be me.”
This time, however, something struck me, and I realized that in some ways, I wasn’t much different than they were.
I wondered, how many times have I wished someone would discover me and that my career would take off? How many times have I hit the “publish” button hoping that THIS is the post that goes viral and makes a name for me.
It was a good moment to sit back and reflect.
Goals sustain you, success does not.
I thought long and hard about my goals.
Was my goal to be an overnight sensation? Would I rather chase success than pursue my goal?
The answer was no.
It took me 16 years to be an "overnight" sensation and become the first woman of Japanese descent to run a supply chain for P&G Japan. The road was long and hard. Sometimes it was lonely being “the first and only.” I took assignments that I didn’t want, doubled up on roles to get promoted, and worked many, many hours. I didn’t always know if it would pay out.
But I stuck with it. My goal was to help those less fortunate than me whether I achieved success or not.
And it was worth it.
I was part of a team that brought hundreds and hundreds of safe, well paying jobs to China and Malaysia. It was humbling to serve the Asian community, and worth every moment and every sacrifice.
Today my goal is to commit my voice to those without. And when things get tough and I have doubts and disappointments, my goal sustains me. My success does not.
Here's how to keep success from making a mess of your career.
Appreciate the path you're on.
Your journey and your struggles give you authenticity, humility, and patience. Don’t wish for quick success and sacrifice character.
Don't rush the learning process.
Wisdom comes from your experiences. As you mature into an expert, you'll develop shortcuts, sharpen your focus and give better advice. It's one thing to share knowledge, quite another to share wisdom.
Listen to your audience and be prepared to pivot.
Don’t fixate on "success" and miss the “right” opportunity. I have a friend who is determined to be a motivational speaker, but struggling with attracting clients. Meanwhile she’s ignoring the demand for her writing and blogging because she doesn’t want to be known as a writer.
There are many roads to fulfill your goal. Look for cues you’re on the right path or it’s time to move on.
Aim to sustain.
Success is not an excuse to coast. Many people spend hours and hours building their skills, and then crash and burn once success strikes. Ignoring the competition and failure to adapt are career killers.
Remember, the skills that got you to the top may not be enough to keep you there.
Focus on the big picture.
Take the time to build your base and your strategy. Otherwise it’s really tempting to chase every new idea. Don’t let the fear of missing out drive your decision making.
Where’s your success taking you?
It's normal to want success, but what price are you willing to pay for it?
Are you at peace with your path?
I'm at peace with mine.
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