How to Define Success for Yourself (Programmer Motivation)

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How to Define Success for Yourself (Programmer Motivation)


Do you know what makes someone successful? Is it a situation? Is it what other people think about them? Is it in their own mind?


We’re going to explore that here today and define what success means for you.


The first question we have to answer is, what is success?


Success defined


Any dictionary will tell you that success is the “accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”


But, what if we’re aiming at all the wrong things? 


I challenge that definition with one of my own:


“Success is the attainment of your potential.”


Of course, there are many ways to define potential for yourself. Knowing your potential, and knowing when you’re heading towards it, means you’ll know how successful you are.


Let’s dig into potential and the various ways it can be defined.


1. Potential can be defined by your situation


Consider this common situation. You’re at work, and you were recently moved onto a new team (not promoted, moved). You now have more responsibility, and now your potential is defined by that situation. 


Lots of work, lots of responsibility, but you can only go so far with your budget, time and efforts. That bar can be easy to set and find for ourselves, but watch out for a trap.


Potential pitfall: when your potential is defined by your situation, people may fall into a victim mentality. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, look to see how you can upgrade or update your situation on a daily basis, even if that’s simply bringing a positive attitude.


2. Potential can be defined by perception


Perception is all about how people think about you.


I don’t agree with it, but it’s common. People let other people define success for them.


You have to toss this right out the window.


So sorry to pull you into this, Mom, but here’s an example of how family can define your success. 


Growing up, my mother used to tell me that I was asking for too much. You don’t need to always negotiate, she’d say, count your blessings and take it easy. Don’t ask for so much.


What was happening here? 


She was putting her beliefs on me. Even when it comes from a place of love or good intentions, when you let people do that, it lowers your ability to be successful. 


Or say it’s a close friend. They say to you, “You’re fantastic, but you should really just focus on one thing at a time. Take it easy.”


When someone else doesn’t believe in what you do, this too, lowers your potential.


Don’t let this happen to you.


3. Potential can be defined by your company


The company you work for can lower your potential. Any of these sound familiar?


“You got a promotion last year, so not this year.”


“You can’t get a high rating two years in a row, not possible.”


Maybe a company is trying to be “fair” but what if that’s not really the case?


As a mentor of mine, Craig Rogers, loves to say, 


“Don’t let your job own your career. You own your own career.” 


The job is going to try to tell you that you can’t get promoted 3 times in 3 years, but I’m telling you, of course you can.


It takes work, strategy and a support network, but you can do it. 


I never let anyone bring my potential down. Don’t let your potential come down, either.


4. Potential can be defined by yourself


You may be holding yourself back. 


Your mindset, your goals, and what you’ve already put in place all impact your potential.


If you have a positive mindset about how you can do anything, your potential will be high.


This is up to you. Being successful and the attainment of your potential, you set the bar as high as you want it.


When we talk about numbers, there’s an 80/20 rule out there. If we hit 80% of our 100% potential, that’s fantastic. Call home! Life is good! But, if I drop the bar to 50%, and I’m only hitting 80% of that 50%, I’m only hitting a portion of my potential.


Our potential defines our bar. We have to shoot for success in our potential, so let’s talk about roadblocks that often get in the way.


It’s often said, “Success will never be in your favor.”


No matter what, roadblocks will present themselves. What can you do to put success in your favor?


1. Karma


You do good things, good things will come back to you.


2. Hard work


Put in the extra hours and time needed for you to dedicate to your craft to improve.


3. Mentor


Find someone who has been where you want to be, to help you put the odds in your favor.


4. Never give up


Do those four things, success will start to swing in your favor.


A few more things to keep in mind. First, that great song by Queen, “I want it all, and I want it now.”


Here’s why I bring it up. That song makes me think about phrasing the question differently. We want it all right now, but people don’t accept or think they can have it all. 


But phrase it like so: “How can I get . . .” vs “What (or why) can I get . . .”


Remember that YouTube video that swept the internet, How Bad Do You Want to Breathe?


A young mentee wants to be mentored by a guru, so he follows what the guru says. Eventually the guru beckons the man out into the water and the guru holds his head under the waves.

The mentee realizes he can’t breathe, and he kicks, flails and does whatever it takes to get out of the water.


The guru pulls him out of the water, the mentee is furious, and the guru says, 


“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”


It’s the truth. Do you want to be successful and hit your potential?


Lastly, Will Smith’s video from years ago about how you never want to compete with that man. If you’re getting on the treadmill with him to compete, there are two things that will happen. 


  1. You’ll get off.

  2. He’ll die on that treadmill. Because he’s going to win no matter what.


That has stayed with me – I would die on a treadmill before I lose. Love that mentality.


These three examples relate back to what I was talking about. If you truly never give up, you’ll go very far. 


If you truly want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, you’ll put in the hard work.


If you want it all and you want it now, and you ask “how” not what, your mentor will help you figure that exact question out to help you get to where you need to be.


You define your own potential, and it’s up to you to live up to it. There are ways to swing success in your favor, but it doesn’t come easy.


Success is the attainment of your potential. It’s up to you to define what your potential is and how high you truly set it.


Check our accompanying video here:


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