Defining Success

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AlexandriaWaterfrontThere are people who want to be successful, and there are people who want to succeed.

Being successful means success in social terms, in terms of status, respect, credential, and self-esteem.

To succeed means success in practical terms, in terms of measurable progress, achievement, evidence, and self-improvement.

People who want to be successful say, “Let’s make this work!” Let’s build a business process out of enthusiasm and a can-do attitude! Let’s build a profitable third quarter out of persistence and cookie-cutter talking points about diversity, team effort, and leadership! Let’s build a ship out of cotton candy and unicorn dreams!

People who want to succeed are not afraid to say, “That isn’t going to work!” Collecting metrics on important but infrequent events will not provide a statistically valid sample size. Training people to improve innate talents they lack will never result in excellent performance. Obsessing about physical diversity while mismanaging intellectual diversity will achieve neither justice nor effectiveness.

People who want to succeed are not afraid to point out bad plans, no matter how frustrated it makes people who want to be successful, because the real world has real consequences and real causality. You can’t cheer yourself to success.

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