Most of us have been given the same general blueprint for success since birth. Go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a job, work hard and you’ll be successful.
And for a long time, this was an effective path to success. But in recent years, the idea of what it means to be successful has changed. With the advent of technology and the global interconnectedness of the world, success is no longer about following the traditional path.
College, 9 to 5 at 40 hours a week, working towards someone else’s dream and then retiring with a gold watch is no longer the only option. It’s become increasingly clear that there are many paths to success, and that the traditional path is not the only way – or even the best way – to achieve it.
So what does success look like now?
It looks like what you make it.
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The Goal Posts are Moving
The landscape of what it means to be successful is changing, and the old rules no longer apply. Technology has made it possible for people to connect and collaborate in ways that were previously impossible, and this has led to a new wave of entrepreneurship.
The rise of the internet and social media has given rise to a new breed of entrepreneurs who are using these tools to create businesses that are changing the world. These entrepreneurs are passionate, driven and motivated to achieve their goals. They are not afraid of failure, and they are constantly learning and growing.
Want to Know a Secret? No One Cares About Your Pedigree
It’s clear that society’s definitions and means of attaining success have shifted dramatically over the past decades. What was considered ‘standard’ for our parents is no longer a reality, and as such, the conventional paths of achievement we’ve all been told to follow since birth don’t carry the same value anymore.
What school did you go to? Why are you here? What makes you worthy of this status?
It doesn’t matter. What does is what you’ve done with what you have.
In the modern world, success is about what you make of yourself. It’s about taking the opportunities that come your way and making the most of them. It’s about being adaptable, resourceful and always learning. It’s about having a growth mindset and always striving to find your own unique path.
Success Demands Ambition, Not Just Effort
What I quickly learned in my early days as a photographer was that in a literal sense, the effort it takes to sell my work for $100 is very similar to the amount needed to sell that same piece for $10,000. The only real difference? Who I’m speaking to.
When it comes down to it, our own ambitions and mindsets are the greatest limiting factors to our success. We tell ourselves the lies of “that’s not possible”, “it’s unreasonable” and “no one’s ever done that before” and make them true by virtue of never even trying in the first place.
But the truth is that success is seldom achieved by those who play it safe. It’s those who are fearless, unafraid to put themselves out there and take risks that often reap the greatest rewards. It’s those who are unapologetically ambitious and refuse to settle for mediocrity that end up making their mark on the world.
That’s why this changing narrative of ‘anything is possible’ in the business world is so exciting to see. The paradigm has shifted to a collective mindset where professionals, creators and influencers are no longer gatekeeping the potential we all have within ourselves to do the seemingly unattainable.
The late Steve Jobs once famously said, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
This quote is often thrown around as an example of Steve Jobs’ cavalier reputation, but it also serves as a bellwether to the attitude of our times: that success is attainable by anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. All it takes is ambition, hard work and a little bit of crazy.
The Human Brain Has Evolved in Favor of Survival, Not Happiness
“Yeah, all of this sounds great, but I have guaranteed stability and a good salary at my day job. Why would I risk that for the unknown?”
It’s a valid question, and one that’s been hardwired into our very beings since the dawn of time.
You see, the human brain is designed for survival first and foremost. It’s what kept our ancestors alive in the face of saber-toothed tigers and other threats to their existence. And while those same fight-or-flight mechanisms can be useful in business, they’re often more hindrance than help.
Because when we’re faced with uncertainty or the potential for failure, our first instinct is to play it safe. We revert back to what’s known and comfortable, instead of taking the risks necessary to achieve greater success.
But if we want to truly thrive in today’s world, we have to learn to override these ancient survival instincts. We have to be willing to take risks, step out of our comfort zones and embrace the unknown.
The world is wide open for those who are willing to see it that way. There has never been a better time in history to be an entrepreneur, and with the vast amount of resources available at our fingertips, there’s really no excuse not to give it a shot.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to write your own script.