Regardless of where we live, what we do for a living, or what our aspirations are, one of the biggest underlying goals looming over our heads is how we can become successful. While what constitutes “success” might be different for me, you, and the guy next door, there are certain underlying themes that seem to persist across the board. One of those themes (and perhaps the most prevalent) is money.
If you ask 100 people how they would define success, the odds are most say that it would come from making lots of money, achieving financial freedom, becoming wildly rich, or something of that sort. Of course, this would then suggest that you could do just about anything to gain capitol and you would be a great success. However, thinking on a global level, this thought doesn't hold nearly as much weight.
Let me ask you this… would you consider someone successful who is an illegal arms dealer, drug dealer, pirate, or hired hitman, but has made a ton of money? I argue that the answer is no. While you could certainly say that shady people of this sort are in a sense, business savvy, it would be a far stretch to call them successful. Why? Because of the type of impact they have on society and the people around them.
The truth is that while money may please us and allow us to live a more comfortable lifestyle, success is instead defined by the commitments we are able to make and keep as well as the impact those commitments have on others. Whether we realize it or not, we are having an impact on the world around us in at least some small way on a daily basis. Making that impact mean something is what will ultimately translate into a type of success far more rewarding than dollars and cents.
The real kicker is that in order to make a commitment, keep a promise, or have a positive impact on anyone or anything, you need to communicate. Success might be defined by our actions, but it is born of communication. This is the only way we can make an impression on anything!
Think about it, every time you communicate with someone, you have impacted their life in some small way that will change them forever. After something as simple as an exchange of words between two people, both parties walk away with knowledge or an experience they didn't have before. This means that even if it is in the minutest way, they are not the same people they were before the conversation started. Every communication creates a unique outcome and generates a new future for those involved. In addition to this, every communication is either helping to open new possibilities, or close those that are available to us, thus giving us the opportunity to solidify or break commitments and measure the intent of our words as well as the impact they have on others.
If you work on making commitments that are more profound, then the impact you have on those around you as well as yourself will also be more profound. At some point, you will no longer need to stop and think about whether or not you have become successful because you will feel it right down to your core. No bank account numbers, no end of year earnings, no investments, just the aftermath of your thoughts, words, and actions.
We are not immortal, and remember that long after we are dust and bones, the only thing that will be left of us is our legacy. That legacy lives on in the people we have impacted through communication and our commitments. Your money, your home, your car, and your livelihood could burn to the ground tomorrow, but no one can take the commitments you honored away from you, even when you are no longer here. How you die is a lot less important than how you live. This is based solely on the impact you had on others during your lifetime. More importantly, that is how you truly define success.