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Do You Focus on Achievement or Success?

We have created an achievement-oriented society. Achievements are important. They serve as goals and benchmarks, mile-markers and victories. But think about it: If your goal is to achieve a successful life, how will you know when you’ve succeeded?

Success Strategy # 33 – “Realize that achievement is not success.” — Joe Caruso

You see, success is not a destination. In order for us to see ourselves as successful human beings and to strive to create success, we have to stop framing everything we do as an achievement. Try adopting the marketing philosophy that Caruso Leadership teaches its clients: “Nothing is anything in and of itself, but it all counts.” We hear talk about peak performance, but, what’s on the other side of that peak? I frequently talk with my clients about creating empowering contexts for themselves and their teams; I suggest that your context for reaching your goals be one of success, rather than one of achievement. Here’s why.

Successful people see their lives as a journey where each step is neither a success or a failure but rather a purposeful and meaningful effort. Successful people focus less on achieving and more on becoming. I remember seeing a Nike poster featuring an obviously exhausted runner dripping with sweat after what must have been a grueling run. The caption read, “There is no finish line.”

To buy into the myth that there is a finish line, or some wonderful and magnificent reward that will end all of our problems and challenges, will only create false expectations and, in the end, a sense of failure.

“Success is not measured in achievement alone.” — Joe Caruso

At one of my past speaking engagements, I met a learning-disabled man who served as a “gopher” for his organization. His role was neither prestigious nor difficult, but he took it very seriously. Those who worked with him treated this young man with respect and affection. When I asked him what his job was, he told me that his primary job was “to make others happy.” I knew this young man had discovered a critical success strategy – it wasn’t WHAT he did that made him successful, it was WHY he did it. His success was not measured in achievements, goals or rewards. When he acted in love, he was rewarded with a success that cannot be measured in a tangible way. His overriding context for his work, “to make others happy,” gave him a means to be successful every day, in each task he completed.

Remember that full effort is full victory. Focus on the effort and the rewards will come to you. Focus on the rewards and you will be guaranteeing frustration. Avoid the temptation of becoming obsessed with end results. Life isn’t about end results. (The end result of life is death.) Life is about living. The greatest achievement is to live happily and successfully. Achievement is an end result. Success is the means to the end result. By shifting your focus from the ends to the means, you will discover more happiness and success.

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