There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be famous, and to have your “15 minutes” in the spotlight, except that a focus on fame can turn your attention away from your next smart move, paralyzing one in indecision. Fame and success are not one in the same, and neither are success and happiness.
So what is being successful in life? Consider these three points.
What it Means to be Famous
John Wilkes Booth is famous, but not for his line of work as an actor, rather for assassinating the 16th president of the United States of America. Few people will have heard of Leo Baekeland, a blacksmith from Belgium, and yet his invention, Bakelite, became the first widely successful modern plastic. Booth was shot and died (after laying on the gunman’s porch for a few hours). Baekeland’s inventions earned him millions of dollars.
Fame, like money, is a wonderful goal–but not at all costs. Ethical choices make for a much happier life, as many a famous (or infamous) individual can attest.
What it Means to be Happy
Success also does not dictate happiness, particularly when that “success” is measured in material goods. “If I just had a newer car, I’d be so much better off.” “If we just had a bigger house, we’d be so much happier.” “If…then” statements, part of American consumerism, have led to a common belief that as little as 10% better might lead to much happier. That’s just Madison Avenue having done a great job, selling “the American Dream”!
The importance of success in our life, then, isn’t directly related to material goods–some of the world’s self-reported happiest people have very little “things,” but that also doesn’t mean they are unsuccessful.
What it Means to be Successful
Success, then, must be defined in some other way, in a way that considers happiness and maybe even “fame” of a kind.
- Be known for something – Be know for something consistent with your values. Be known as the one who gets the job done. Be know for being creative, or having initiative. Be microfamous–known well in your own community or industry for the high quality of your work.
- Be product-oriented – Know your end game. Do you want to disrupt your field with an entirely new angle, or enhance lives to make others happier? Do what you set out to do — as an individual, as a business, as a brand — and you will find success.
- Be satisfied – As important as it is to set the next goal and achieve it, one will never be happy or feel successful without reflecting on what has been accomplished. Success isn’t just about climbing mountains, it’s about enjoying the view at the top of each, and then climbing the next mountain.
- Be true to yourself – At the end of each day, no matter how many widgets get sold or mountains get climbed, we go home with our own conscience and look only ourselves in the mirror. Successful people have, and value, integrity.
The View from the Top
Defining the success of your brand in these terms will often also get you to reflect, “Why is being successful important?” and for many of the world’s happiest and most successful people, it means enjoying the success of others.
The Latin motto Non nobis solum, “Not for ourselves alone,” is part of the credo of many clubs or organizations–groups that have come to realize that by enhancing others we also lift ourselves.
They say, “It’s lonely at the top,” but not if you take others along for the journey. Being known for these things, defining success in your own way, you will see the success of your brand.