My view on personal and professional success
They key to satisfying both realms of success depends on, in my opinion, our ability to achieve and maintain a healthy balance of the myriad elements that constitute our daily work and personal lives.
To effectively illustrate this, it would be apt to point out, at least to some extent, what ought not to be deemed the ultimate definitions of both personal and professional success.
The pinnacle of one’s working life does not equal hours spent at the office. The employee who always leaves an hour or two after normal business hours is not guaranteed professional development, nor will a business necessarily reward such behavior with cash or other equivalent remuneration. In fact, such behavior could have the opposite effect. A keen manager may view such an employee as someone who lacks the capability to plan for an efficient work-day. Or someone who may in fact be lazy during 8am to 5pm and wanting to catch up to the rest of the herd during those extra unnecessary hours.
In the same way, burning the midnight oil at home is not the ideal remedy to cope with planned or even unplanned work. Neglecting home life will have a knock-on effect at work and the stress of a weakening work / life balance will always have negative professional consequences.
To be able to plan effectively is to be able to prioritize cleverly. This enables everyone on each organizational level to not only organize the fixed and variable issues of each day at the office, but to also communicate properly and to plan so that resources are used most efficiently. This is the first step in achieving structure at work so that balance with other more personal activities (like hobbies, chores or parenting) can follow. Other subjects deemed, at least by me, to be unworthy of contributing to the success of an aspirant professional would include, among many others, misuse of company assets, dishonesty in representation of work and work ethic and using other people to further one’s own career.
Success should then be the exact opposite of these unwanted elements and best described by a few ‘golden rules’:
Study when possible, learn from others and apply yourself outside of your normal post so that you are geared to be the most knowledgeable in your field (achieved only if you understand your impact on stakeholders around you) and to be the most proficient version of yourself
Treat the company you are working for as if it is your own. When you imagine spending company money as if it is coming out of your own bank account, you start looking at expenditure with different eyes and begin to prioritize continuous improvement projects – which in itself can be a springboard toward advancement or at the very least, recognition for worth-while efforts by your colleagues
Be honest with yourself and your abilities, understand your limits and in doing so, seek out those that would complement your shortcomings. This enhances your professional network and shows you have confidence in your own sphere of influence; and that you possess the right amount humility to ask for help for the benefit for the company as a whole
Striving for excellence in your specific role (and eventually reaping the rewards) is key to success, but seeing others achieve the same heights because of your influence, guidance or mentorship can be just as fulfilling and for me fits nicely in the framework written here.
Ultimately, my view on professional success is simply the incorporation of all or at least some of these themes in my daily life while keeping a healthy balance with personal duties and ambitions. To be able to reach your goals, whether it’s completing a project, the next promotion or becoming the CEO one day, while maintaining a happy home life, is the surest way to stay content and motivated. Finding that equilibrium is sometimes very hard, but when you do, your thoughts and outcomes will seek alignment and engender small achievements at first, and then finally the elusive end-goal success, whatever your personal definition is.
It follows then that personal success sits on the opposite end of the scale. It is not spending inordinate amounts of time on that special activity you love at the expense of your loved ones or professional commitments. It also ought not be built around the number of likes one can attain on social media. But in saying that, it is objectively more difficult to put into a box due to its intrinsic subjective nature. But at its core, I believe, there are four things that form the foundation of personal success:
Set a goal, whether big or small, plan for it, deadline it and work towards it. It could be based on your own personal talent, something you are interested in or simply keeping a promise to yourself like “I will make my bed every morning.”
Be a good husband. Happy wife, happy life as the saying goes (if you are not married, just be kind to your neighbor)
Be a role-model to your children. Act in a way that they will want to aspire to
Lastly, plan your professional life so that you can make time for personal endeavors that build upon these foundations. This closes the loop that ties in professional success and makes the prized middle ground between your job and home a happy and fulfilling place to be
At its core, that is the kind of success we all want, regardless of race, religion or culture – happiness through balance by planning and taking care of those around you.