Secrets of Success

Typically, I’m not one to jump on blog meme-wagons. I think it’s my own stubborn rugged individualist personality – I’ve just gotta come up with own blog ideas, rather than repurpose someone else’s! Today, though, Char at Casual Keystrokes posted one that really resonated with me.

The question is: why are the people we admire successful? And – while I’m really pretty self deprecating most of the time – what makes me successful? On his blog Today is That Day, Aaron Potts asks folks to spread that question across the web.

I want to add a couple of disclaimers here:

First, while Aaron is, I am not a follower of the Law of Attraction, The Secret, nor other wealth-building philosophies. I’m more of a puritan work ethic kind of gal.

Second, I don’t really define success in terms of money, big houses, or jet set lifestyles. When my boys were dissing each other with “You’re a loser at life, dork” text messages, they got an eye-rolling, patented, Mom-philosphy lecture on the meaning of success.

I believe success is doing what you are called to do, with conviction, diligence and integrity, and in the process making a difference in this world. It has precious little to do with money, and everything to do with faith and love.

Am I successful? By the standards of the world, reported at Gapminder, my solo income is in the top 1st percentile, worldwide. According to the Ecological Footprint Quiz, if everyone on the planet lived, traveled and consumed like me, the human population would require 4.5 planets to survive (I’m not proud of that but I think the numbers are a bit skewed.)

I get good results, respect and decent performance appraisals at work, and have become professionally certified and doubled my income in the last five years. My husband loves me and occasionally brings me flowers. My teenage boys still hug me and talk to me, and will graduate from high school with above average grades and go on to college. My dogs cost more than my living room couch, and are pretty sure they own it. And, maybe most importantly, when I look deep into my own heart, I’m ok with the woman I find there.

I’m certainly a work in progress, with lots yet to achieve and many lessons yet to learn. There are areas where I miss the mark and still need to keep working at it. All in all, though, I’ve been blessed with success.

What are my most important daily practices?

  1. Keep your Family First – Who is going to be there for you when you’re old, sitting in a rocking chair, and you need another margarita? My family does come first, and I’m enormously grateful for the flexibility I have to make that so. I can attend spelling bees, awards ceremonies and sports tourneys, as well as turn off the computer every evening and spend time hanging out with the folks who truly mean more than anything in my life – my family.

  2. Communicate Constantly – Whether written or spoken, formal or informal, it is essential. As a telecommuting employee, it’s my job to reach out to the “mother ship” and stay in the loop. As a project manager, it’s my job to be the hub and keep all the spokes rotating. As a mom, I have to reach out to my teens too. Getting them to talk is like pulling teeth, but listening to them is crucial.
  3. Focus on Results – All the communication and organization in the world doesn’t matter if I can’t deliver results. That’s the purpose of project management! Every day, I ask where we are in the big picture, and push my folks toward those results. It’s not about policies, procedures, processes, or pretty code – it’s about finished product and happy customers.
  4. Know your Stuff - When I’m taking on a new project, I make sure I understand it technically, all the way down to the hands-on level. In my experience, rote managers fail. Always do your research, never stop learning, professionally, personally, creatively, spiritually, everywhere!
  5. Question the Establishment - Nothing makes me crankier than to be told, “No. That’s just our policy.” Why have we always done it that way? Is it arbitrary, or are there real technical or physical barriers? The world is changing rapidly, does that way of doing things make sense any longer? Let’s deconstruct it, take a fresh look! Nothing is truly impossible – it just may take longer and cost more.
  6. Be Creative – One of my off-the-wall theories is that a creative person who does not express herself can become depressed and anxious – just like an angry person who turns her rage inward. It’s like a pond with no outlet; it becomes stagnant. I do something creative every day; it drives my husband nuts. I write a blog post, I write fiction, I metalsmith or create jewelry, I design graphics or web stuff, and I garden. Not all at once.
  7. Trust Your Intuition – Most of us have a still small voice, but it gets drowned out in the urgency and clamor of our daily lives. If my hunch tells me to try a new approach, talk to someone, or make a certain decision, I try to listen to it rather than argue with it. Intuition, by definition, is gut level and not subject to analysis.

Who am I going to tag with this? Well, the list is a little surprising, as some of the folks don’t have traditional careers (or even blogs), but are some of the most successful people I know – by my definition.

Slat Rat
Laughing Giant
Beast Mom
MichelleLovesKen
Scalzi

Please – take some time to think about what you do that makes you successful, articulate it online – and ask others to do the same. If you’re interested in playing and haven’t been tagged, please consider this an “open source” meme – take it away! Just credit the creator (Aaron).

13 Responses to “Secrets of Success”

  1. Char Says:

    Wow! This definitely struck a chord with you. Fantastic job!

  2. Aaron Says:

    I will second Char’s “wow” comment! What a great list of successful ways of being that you have, Jeri.

    I say “ways of being” on purpose, because it is clear that your success secrets are part of who you are, and not just tasks on your list to be checked off each day.

    I am sure all of the people in your circle of influence benefit from your presence, and I can’t think of higher praise than that.

    Also, for the record, I’m not much of a “meme-wagon” person myself, but I saw this as an opportunity for a lot of people to take a good look at their habits, and for other people to learn from those observations.

    This effort has paid off enormously well as I have recorded so many points of view and eye-opening successful habits, and many people have met a lot of other great people as a result, so I’m happy that I went forward with this particular meme-effort. :)

    I am also happy that the meme found it’s way to you, Jeri, and I look forward to adding your site to the list of participants when all is said and done.

    Thanks for participating, and for your winning-attitude. Great stuff!

  3. Sadiq M. Alam Says:

    Lovely!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I found your blog this morning while searching for info on commuting from Poulsbo to Seattle.

    Your blog is wonderful! It is so nice to know there are other people in this world that feel the same about what success means, etc. (I am a terrible writer, so will stop while I am ahead!). I have really enjoyed reading your blogs, thanks. :-)

    I would love to know more about what living in Poulsbo is like and commuting to Seattle. If you could spare a minute and send me a quick e-mail I would greatly appreciate it!

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