What is success? And can it actually be defined objectively? In my opinion, success is a subjective concept, as in each person defines it based on his or her goals and perception. Hence, the term itself should be considered as inherently ever-changing in relation to the individual and their particular stages in life. In fact, even when it comes to the individual, the concept itself keeps on evolving as they progress. As such, the main purpose of this article is to touch upon the concept of success starting with its development from the early up to later stages in life along with looking into the factors that can hinder it.
To begin with, the meaning of the term ‘success’ keeps evolving as we go through the journey of what is called ‘life.’ At the early stages, or during childhood, the concept can embrace a different meaning. For instance, what is considered to be success for a child can be as simple as learning to ride a bike, getting their first performance star in class, or even winning a soccer match. Although this might be considered as naive by adults, it rather exemplifies the core nature of the term. Moreover, heading to the primary stages of adulthood, an individual’s perspective changes, in which they start looking at success from a slightly progressive point of view. This can be expressed by the example of graduating high school or getting accepted to the desired university or college. What needs to be acknowledged here is the fact that success pertains to the individual human being along with their distinctive aspirations, even when it comes to being at a particular stage. Furthermore, as the person moves forward in life, the term itself keeps on changing based on the level or phase that they are in. For example, let’s say an individual recently graduated university or college, now they have a dream job to chase after or even start their own business. Pursuing that goal and achieving it is what defines success to them. And as you go on chasing other ventures in life, you are bound to open up other doors and the process continues.
Hence, this hunger and persistence for success never fades away unless you stop striving to achieve your goals. Fundamentally, the term ‘success’ is a continuous process that is fueled by an individual’s own motives and goals. Therefore, going through the different stages of life, we can clearly see that there is a constant change in the term that does not only pertain to the stages themselves, but also to the individual.
Moving on, I would like to touch upon the idea that success should be constrained to a certain criteria or category. I personally strongly disagree with this perception. In my point of view, there should not be a standardized criterion that determines whether individuals are considered to be successful or not. Because this completely neglects the fact that each person is unique in their own way and that they have different talents and aspirations in life. For example, if a person does not graduate high school or university, that does not mean that they are bound to be a failure, rather they just chose the path that is more suitable for them. That being said, we all have our own paths, and recognizing what is ours to take and what is not simply directs us towards our own success. At the end of the day, even Albert Einstein was considered to be a failure in school, yet he is considered to be a main contributor in the scientific field and also recognized as an icon of intelligence. The point being made here is that individuals cannot be forced to fit in a specific category to determine the course of their career or life. We should consider the fact that there are 7 billion individuals in this world, each with different preferences, goals, and dreams in life. Ruling someone out just because they do not fit in a particular criterion creates the possibility of depriving the world of great inventions and life-changing ideas.
The next point I would like to talk about is limiting success to a period of time or stage in life. As I clearly state, individuals should not be at a certain level or stage in order to determine whether they are to be successful or not. They do not have to enter university, graduate, and get a job at a particular age just because society expects them to do so, as every individual has their own path in life. While some achieve theirs at an earlier stage, others have theirs at different or later timings. As a society, we need to acknowledge the fact that human beings are bound by their own paths, aspirations, and timings. So, what one person can achieve should not necessarily be a standard for others. When it comes to personal goals, each person has their own agenda.
Although society has progressed throughout time, it is still clinging to views that limit its own success and development. The notion that success comes with age and experience is one of those views. In fact, this point completely lacks the understanding that age and experience are not always correlated. For instance, an individual can work in a specific field for decades and not necessarily have the proper tools to do the job based on the changing demands and factors in today’s world. So, it is up to the individual to catch up with the world and keep updated with the vast amount of information that is available. As such, many will argue that theory can never replace an actual job experience, and I do agree with that. However, we cannot rely solely on experience since it does not provide a clear indication that the years spent on the job were actually developmental. There are many factors in play when it comes considering an individual in terms of career or personal accomplishment and success. Most importantly, we should make sure that all are being considered equally and that there are no preferences based on society’s common view.
In conclusion, the term ‘success’ can be defined in many ways since it is the individuals themselves who create it. Therefore, as we had a look at the evolution of the term and the factors that facilitate or limit its occurrence in society, I shall say that we as a society need to encourage individuals to achieve whatever they desire and not discourage them by deeming it unrealistic or impossible. Because, looking back at history, a lot of the things that we use today were considered to be impossible back then. This can apply to the Internet, smartphones, cars, airplanes, and the list goes on. Hence, the most important thing for us to do as a society is to make sure that every individual has the opportunity to create his or her own successes. It is only by then that society will truly develop and reach its full potential.
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead April 2022 issue.
Faisal Sajwani is a distinguished Emirati board member, C-level executive, and strategic advisor. He is a Board Member at the Private Office of Sheikh Saqer Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, a Royal Family Office based in the UAE and
Founding Partner at Fate Capital Management, an ESG-focused investment fund. In addition, he is an advisor and business coach to numerous reputable companies worldwide. He is also a Mentor at Dubai Business Women Council and a member of the advisory board at Sustainability Action Society. Sajwani has received a lifetime achievement award from His Highness Sheikh Saqer Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi for his many notable achievements.