I read something in Quincy Jones book “12 Notes” that I thought was awesome. He said that a mentor once told him “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” We all know this to be true - We need to put in the work to get results, and accomplishing meaningful results leads to success. But I want to slow down and dissect this thought a bit more.
First, the definition of success is so elusive. One person could feel completely fulfilled and successful, and another could feel lost and anxious… When doing the exact same things. What we perceive as success is entirely contextual to our own values, frame of reference, and interpretation.
But what’s unavoidable is that no matter what form success takes, doing the work must come first. If success is having the financial comfort to travel and do the things that you enjoy without worry, then you need to grow in your career and earn a good income. If success means making a difference in the world, you need to play a tangible role in creating something impactful. If success is having a happy and healthy family, you need to have conversations with your partner and invest in that relationship.
As was showcased in that last example - Oftentimes we don't consider the things we do naturally as "work". But don’t get confused because doing the work exists in everything. Any outcome you have requires the input of your effort, attention, energy, and time. So don’t discount the way you’re investing yourself in the things you care about. Results don’t come about on their own. They require doing specific work every time. Hopefully now you might have a little more perspective that will help you see how you are doing the work that helps you achieve successes you desire.
You’ve probably asked yourself this question before but I’m going to ask it again - What does success look like for you?
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