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How is success achieved?

Success has various meanings, depending on the point of view of the person trying to achieve it.
We live in an exciting time, don’t we? Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than it has in the previous 300, which means that we are about to enter this completely uncertain future where we have no idea what kind of companies will be successful and how society will operate. And this trend is not slowing down. It’s accelerating even further. So many, if not most, of the skills that you have today will become obsolete in the next five, 10 years. And what does that mean for you and I? Well, it means that, in order to be successful in this uncertain future, we need to be way more adaptable.
We need to be very good at figuring out a way to become agile, so that we can adapt into this changing work environment, so that we can teach ourselves new skills that will be relevant in this uncertain future. And one of the most important things that I believe is relevant for all of us is to have this type of entrepreneurial mindset. The entrepreneurial attitude and this way of looking at how can you constantly reinvent yourself? So the most important startup of all is the startup of you. Right?
The startup of you– of how you are going to be able to navigate in this uncertain future, what kind of skills you need to acquire, what kind of resources you need to possess in order to create value for a future employer, or if you’re starting your own business, for your future customers. Because everything is just changing faster and faster. And if you don’t have this entrepreneurial mindset, you will most likely become obsolete. You will have a hard time adding value in this new type of context. And what I see with most employers is that they’re looking for these entrepreneurial individuals as well. Right?
It is no longer enough to just have the basic skill set as an engineer, or as a physicist, or as an English major, or whatever it might be. You need to also be able to adapt to the world that’s changing all around you all the time. And I work with employers like LEGO, like Twitter. And just two weeks ago, I did a workshop for the third largest candy company in world, Perfetti van Melle and Novo Nordisk in the insulin-producing pharmaceutical industry. And all these companies are looking into intrapraneurship. They’re looking at how can we teach our employees to be more entrepreneurial? How can we help reinvent ourselves so we don’t get run over by the next wave of garage entrepreneurs?
The biggest threat to most companies today is not their known competitors. It is the industry disruptors– the new startups that come in with a product that’s 10 times cheaper, 10 times faster, 10 times more user friendly. And that will completely disrupt an existing industry. And we have numerous examples of large companies that have gone out of business in a very short time span. It used to be that companies would stay in the S&P 500– the list up the leading 500 companies in the US– the average lifespan of a company there was about 65 years.
Now it’s down to 15, which means that the top companies that we know today either won’t exist or will have been bumped down in just the next decade or two. So everything is getting disrupted and we also need to think about how can we become more agile so we can navigate in this uncertain future.

Success has various meanings, depending on the point of view of the person trying to achieve it.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as ‘favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence’.

Are wealth, respect or fame your measures of success? Is that really all that it comes down to?

Let’s take a look at what some prominent figures consider success to be.

Arianna Huffington – Founder of Huffington Post

Most people think of success as money and power. To live the lives we truly want and deserve, we need to add another dimension.
Huffington says this dimension ‘consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving’.

Winston Churchill – Former British Prime Minister

going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
So we might need to persevere even in tough times to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sir Richard Branson – businessman/entrepreneur

too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people they associate with.

Branson suggests true success should be measured by how happy you are.

Leila Hoteit – partner and manager at BCG

In her TED talk, Leila, an engineer, advocate and mother in Abu Dhabi, summarises her key to success as: having the resilience, > to convert sh*t into fuel…

working on your home life with the same energy you work on your career and realising collaborating is more productive than competing.

Success according to these prominent figures can be summed up as:

  • giving (volunteering)
  • persistence (drive through the tough times)
  • happiness (don’t just work yourself to the bone, enjoy life outside of work).

Your task

What do you think of these definitions of success? Do you agree with these statements? Discuss in the comments.

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