Measuring Success: Isn’t A Straight Line


When we think of successful people, many famous people come to mind. Athletes, presidents, actors and actresses, the list goes on and on. We think to ourselves, if only we could be so lucky. The problem is, we are measuring success by what we see. We only see the success, not the struggles behind the scenes. What happens off the playing field and off camera is what determines success and it’s how we should be measuring success.

For most of us, we see a successful person like Jim Carey and think his success track went like this:

measuring success

In actually, it went like this:

measuring success

Success isn’t a straight line. When it comes to famous successful people, we only see the outcome. We don’t see what is happening behind the scenes. All of the hard work and sacrifices they have made to be where they are today. Take for example a football player.

In high school, the football player was a great and was signed by a top college to play football. From there, he enters the NFL draft. What are the odds, this football player is drafted and makes it to the NFL? According to studies, the odds are 1.7%. Of the close to 70,000 college football players only 250 move on to the NFL.

Once the football player gets to the NFL, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The average career for an NFL player is just 3.5 years, or 6 years if you are a first round draft pick. This just goes to show how much work a person has to put in if he wants to stay in the league. We think of the off-season as the time when the football player is sleeping in late, lying around the house and having parties. This is true of the person that doesn’t last in the NFL.

The people that do last, the successful ones, are working during the off-season. They lift weights, run drill and watch film 8 hours a day. If you want to be successful, you have to work hard.

Going back to my example with Jim Carey, we think of how many successful films he has starred in. But he has starred in some duds too. His career hasn’t been that straight line. His career is more like yours and mine, with peaks and valleys.

Measuring Success For What It Is

We all experience moments of setbacks and moments of advancement. The key is accepting both. Don’t get down and discouraged when you have a setback. Take the time needed to assess the setback. What went wrong? What can be improved upon or changed so that it doesn’t happen again? Likewise, don’t get cocky when you experience advancement. Appreciate it and understand what you did to get yourself there.

By taking time to understand what works and what doesn’t work as well as appreciating setbacks and advancements, you will set yourself up for more and more success down the road. Just remember that success isn’t a straight line and that you shouldn’t be measuring success by looking at others accomplishments. You will have ups and downs the rest of your life. But if you stay positive and focused you can achieve all of your goals.

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