If I were to ask you to map your success to date for me, what would that graph look like? Let’s use the horizontal x-axis to track time—your teens, twenties, thirties, and so on—and the vertical y-axis to plot your definition of success, however you define it.
Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself in putting your map together.
How Do You Define Success?
For many, it’s graduating from college, accepting a first job, being promoted for the first time, getting married, having children, and so forth. They subconsciously categorize key milestones as buckets in their lives— you made more money with this job or you moved to where you live now some 15 years ago or you had children. I submit that it’s our personal and professional growth. Graduation, new jobs, career progressions, even the experiences of watching children develop are often incredible sources of joy—but they’re also amazing lessons in shaping who we become—the good, the bad, and the ugly!
If you haven’t had any dips in your life, what lessons have you really learned?
What was the impact of the decisions you made in creating those low points? Did you take a job for the financial gains alone, only to have the company go out of business six months later? Did you volunteer to lead a project, which failed and painted you as the source of that failure? Did you follow a dream only to realize it as an inescapable nightmare?
Much more important than the mistakes we’ve all made over the years, what lessons did you learn that became keys to your success after a low point? How did you recover from an apparent abyss? What strategies or tactics did you apply to overcome insurmountable debt, the loss of a loved one, or termination from that last job? In my experience, if you can understand what makes you successful after a low point in your life, it helps develop your resiliency as well as foresight in the challenges— and opportunities—ahead.
Most important, what were the critical relationships along the way that facilitated your personal or professional growth?