Succeeding at the game of success

Posted by in Productivity

Succeeding at the game of success

Everyone wants to succeed – it’s just that we all define success a little differently, which gives you a disadvantage with regard to achieving your particular brand of success. Ask a few people the right questions, however, and you’re in for the reveal of a lifetime.


It’s a matter of perspective


To succeed at any game, you have to know the rules. Then, you need to practice. If you’re fortunate, you’re a natural – yet out of the hundreds of millions of people who are reasonably good at soccer, only a select few thousands can make a living from it – and fewer still an incredibly good living. For the moment, though, let’s assume just this: that you’re reasonably good at what you do. How will you achieve your particular brand of success?


By getting over yourself, that’s how.


Viewing the world comes natural to us all: we do it from a first-person perspective, and that’s that. Alas, with specific regard to achieving success, it’s far more useful to apply a third-person perspective. Instead of asking “what are these people to me?” one should ask “what am I to these people?”. A first-person perspective (as any sociopath might tell you) is only beneficial with regard to identifying whom might be in possession of the skills or connections to aid you in your pursuit.

Now, as you can’t succeed merely on your own – seeing as how you must somehow be compensated for your efforts, a third-person perspective is far more useful. Assuming you’re going to work for someone, let’s see how many of these questions you know the precise answer to – as in, you can answer them in 15 words or less.


  • What does you succeeding look like to the person who’s managing you?
  • How does your manager become successful?
  • What are the goals by which your department measure success, and will you achieve them?
  • What does success look like to the company?
  • What does success look like to the company’s owners?


The chain of success


What you see above is the chain of success. Every single one of the persons whom you will have to ask to get a 15-words or less answer to one of those questions will have a particular, personal view on what success looks like. Achieve their perspective on success, and you will (hopefully) be well treated, well compensated and quite possibly promoted.


Of course, the problem with this scenario is that it takes just one incompetent leader to ruin the chain. This means that if you realize that your leader’s perspective on success doesn’t match that of his leader, you’ve discovered a weak link in the chain – presenting you with the necessity of making a few choices that are all but simple.


What remains simple, however, is the fact that once you’ve identified what success looks like for at least the closest couple of rungs on the corporate ladder, the rest is just a matter of adapting accordingly. Unless, of course, that errs with your perception of success.


Regardless, it’s up to you.