Success means not giving up. Fallacy or fact?

Hold on… did I hear that correctly? Success means not giving up on something you started. I believe that that statement is a fallacious definition of success. My reasons for disbelieving this statement are based on my personal experience and everything I have learned in 25 years of working with organisations and individuals. We learn from our own experience, hindsight; we learn from other’s experience and we learn from what we read in books and hear from courses.

My first reason is that I believe we do not know what we know until we learn it. We learn about life from a variety of areas one of the key areas from which we find insight is when we have done something. Remember your mum saying that “hindsight is 2020 vision”. Meaning that experience is the best insight (2020 vision refers to perfect vision). So we decide on doing something and we start the journey and we get insight from ourselves and the environment. Ideally, we learn from our mistakes and we amend our course of action. However, sometimes we realise that our decision was a terrible decision. Should we continue on our decided course of action or should we stop doing what we have done?

We also learn from others. Our experiences might be different, our context might be different, but there is always wisdom from learning about others’ experiences. Other people’s experiences can provide us with unique insights into the course of action that we are taking. Ideally, we should try to get information before taking action and reviewing others’ insights. However, we do not always have access to others’ experiences and sometimes when we are experiencing difficulties we only connect to and understand others’ experiences. Remember the adage “misery seeks company”. People that experience similar challenges always find another to commiserate. Turn that around and learn from others’ misery.

Learning from books and courses is another way to get knowledge. We get immeasurable information from books; we get insights from what authors have shared with us, however very often we do not apply all the knowledge we gleaned from books and courses because we live in a knowledge-rich society. There is so much knowledge in the world today that we are often overwhelmed by knowledge. In this overwhelm we switch off and we stop trusting the information out on the internet.

Also, with new knowledge and insights, we do not always apply what we have learned and we, therefore, do not change… we do what we have done before… I think of a well-known quote by Albert Einstein, that says that if we continue doing the same thing repeatedly, that’s defined as insanity.

So we should STOP, reflect on what we have learned and decided on what we want to achieve.

We must be open to information that becomes available either through our own experiences, others’ experiences, or additional information in the environment. Remember, as we implement our goals, our understanding changes, our environment changes and we also change. Nothing is static. We should be open and flexible to adapt to change. Remember the story about the frog.

I have read somewhere that a frog placed in a container with water will not jump out of the water. If you increase the temperature of the water by just 1 degree over a sustained period, eventually the frog boils to death.

Reflect on the environment and take cues from the environment, and jump out of the water when you realize and learn that the temperature is changing.

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Anthea Seafield

Anthea Seafield

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Transformational Life coach and Organisational Development Consultant and facilitator