On The Pursuit of Success
The pursuit of success can be defined in many ways, but for me, the pursuit of success is about focusing on setting up an environment in which you are most likely to achieve success, rather than simply focusing on trying one’s best. These two things are very different.
Take Olympic athletes as an example. If someone wants to win a gold medal, then they must create an environment in which that is possible. That means becoming a member of an Olympic team, having a coach who can provide feedback, attendance to training sessions and, of course, putting forth effort when needed. Running, rowing, swimming or jumping as hard as you can will never be solely sufficient. They are, of course, pivotal, but your environment will do a great deal of the work for you.
Success is rarely attributed to one thing. Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers describes this very notion in great detail. His postures that success is often a result of a number of factors, leading someone to their achievement or position in life. I’m here to tell you that you can, quite easily, manufacture the environment needed for you to achieve success. It’s all about adjusting little things.
Human beings in western societies love to celebrate individual brilliance and effort. This is in no small part due to the prevalence of “The American Dream;” the idea that any one person, by virtue of his or her own hard work, can achieve anything in life. I don’t disagree but the dream negates to factor in the environmental factors that affect the success, that encourage the pursuit of success, not the success itself.
For an individual looking for small changes in lifestyle in order to reach moderate goals, those environmental factor can actually be a much greater obstacle than changing the habit itself. I’m here to tell you that if you want to succeed, spend some of your time focusing on the environment surrounding your goal. In fact, I’d encourage you to think long and hard about you see and hear on a daily basis that affects your goal.
Some simple examples would be the man who wants to lose weight, but works at a donut shop; the woman who wants to write a novel, but works ten hour shifts six days of the week; the girl who wants better grades, but has a television and a video game console on her bedroom desk; the twenty-something looking for a partner, who ‘s favorite thing to do is stay in on a weekend. These things are not impossible to overcome, but they have a great affect on your chances of success and your motivation when pursuing a goal. When you fight not just against difficulty, but also your environment, you are certain to lose.
The question becomes what can you do to enhance your chances of success? What can you do to create an environment in which the pursuit of success is smoother, more appealing, even easier than it would be otherwise?
Often, it is these small life changes that the most difficult to accomplish, because we often see them as separate from our primary objectives, we overlook them in favor of bigger ideas, grandiose changes and monumental achievements that are just around the corner.
When your environment becomes your focus, success is achieved indirectly, seemingly by accident, as if it just so happened to turn out that way. That’s where most change and achievement comes from. If you want lasting and meaningful success in your life, focus on adjusting your environment in the direction of your goals.
You want to write a novel? Find a way to read more. You want to learn to play to guitar? It better be sitting beside your desk. You want to sell your first painting? Everyone you meet should know you’re an artist.
There are millions of small ways you can adjust your environment to help in the pursuit of success. Remember that little things always, always, always add up, in both directions. When you create the right environment, success is not just likely, it’s guaranteed.