What is success? What determines whether you are successful or not? I am quite certain that success differs from one person to another. Success may be pursuing a degree and finishing it (with and without flying colors). Success may be getting married and having a beautiful family life. Success may be building a career and working in a multinational company. Success may be writing your first book that speaks of wisdom or legacy. Success may be founding your own company and driving it to success. Success may be gaining self-confidence after a healthy diet and tremendous work out. Success comes in many shapes. Whichever it is, I have learned one thing through this journey. Genuine success does not happen overnight. It takes clear vision, courage, hard work, patience, and a teachable heart.
The importance of having a clear vision helps you pursue dreams and achieve goals. A vision that is well-defined will open your mind to the endless possibilities of the future and it will help you focus. If you do not have a vision of who you want to be, how you want to achieve, and what you want to get out of it, your drive will erode until life will just become a series of events.
How do you envision yourself 5-10 years from now? It was an essay question in my English 11 class several years ago. Normally, students would take this question for granted like my younger self. But I’ve realized that it is an important question to be answered by someone who is aspiring to be successful.
Before my journey to New Zealand has begun, I tried to answer these questions: Where I am now? Where I am going? How do I see myself 5-10 years from now? How do I get there? I wrote my answers on a piece of paper including the possible steps to get there. It allowed me to carefully plan things out and guided me to create SMART objectives–short-term, medium-term, and long-term.
You need courage to be able to start something. When you begin something, there are a lot of uncertainties. Uncertainty about the outcome or consequences of your decision or action, uncertainty about whether you will be able to get the support you needed, or uncertainty about the feedback you get from others. If you wish to succeed, you must develop courage. It is a secret ingredient that allows you to take action in spite of fears. It allows you to attempt things that you have not tried before, despite your fear of looking foolish.
When I was searching for a scholarship, I was afraid that I may be refused to be given one because of my employment status. Still, I took courage and asked for the support of my company. Unfortunately, the management refused to give me one since I was not a permanent government employee. Even if this was the case, I did not waiver. I asked and the answer was ‘no’. Yet, I held my hopes up and prayed for favor. With persistence, I took courage to accomplish the scholarship requirements and submitted it anyway. Few months later, I received the most awaited Scholarship Offer and that they are willing to support me regardless of my employment status (service contractor). If I did not have the courage to submit it in spite of uncertainty and hesitation, I would never know that the outcome is in favor of me.
Upon receiving the scholarship, I also realized that I knew no one in New Zealand. What if I get lost? What if I fail? The uncertainty was exacerbated by the idea that we have different educational orientation, culture, and language. At first, I had no clue where I was going and how I should behave to represent my country, my Alma Mater, and who I am–a humble Igorota-ready-to-shine. I just knew that I have goals to achieve and I was hopeful to accomplish them. I prayed for courage and believed it was there– and there it was. Little by little, I was able to build network and expand it somehow until New Zealand has become my second home.
Furthermore, I have learned that courage is not obtained solely from a single action. It is nurtured through a habit of courageous decisions and action. Truly, if you have the courage to begin, you will find the courage to succeed.
Hard work is the price you pay to get where you want to be. It is your dedication to the task at hand and the determination that whether you win or lose, you will do your best to get through it. Ralph Emerson Waldo once said, “shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men believe in cause and effect.” It means that to be successful, you do not wait for things to happen. Instead, you must take action to realize them. You may have the loftiest ideals and noblest dreams, but nothing works out unless you do. And when you work hard, it is best to work with a clear goal in mind. Working hard by itself may exhaust you and shorten your lifespan. I believe that success takes strategic actions in the right direction to get there.
Take time to clarify your goal. What are you trying to achieve with your hard work? At the end of the day, it is not just about how hard you have worked but how you have worked on the right things.
We now live in a world that is driven by instant gratification. Often, people want things immediately or ‘NOW’ and lose sight of what is to come in the future. Fortunately, I was born and raised with a knowledge that anything of great value takes time–whether it is a matter of developing a new skill, building a relationship, developing a project, or launching a business. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Hence, patience is a real virtue. It reminds us to maintain our enthusiasm when pursuing our goals. It teaches us that hard work will pay off and worthwhile goals take time to achieve.
On the other hand, delaying things often will also risk your chance to experience the fruits of your labor. Although delaying gratification and pursuing worthwhile pursuit go hand in hand, not everything that is easy is meaningful; not everything for which you delay gratification is worth a long-term struggle. Balancing the two with a dose of patience will help you balance your life and your passion at the same time.
While studying at the University of Auckland Business School, I have learned that our ability to delay gratification is one of the most important ingredients to succeed in life. Warren Buffet practiced the ability of delayed gratification. When he bought stock, he holds on to it no matter how the market performs. Most people would choose to sell immediately when everyone is shouting that the market is going down, except Warren–one of the richest men on Earth.
No matter what your age is, success is unlimited if you have a teachable heart. If you want to become successful or if you want to unleash your potential, you must be willing to learn. If you are not teachable, you are bound to constantly fail and make the same mistakes. Worst, it makes you unhappy. If you want to be successful tomorrow, be teachable today. Being teachable requires humility. Be willing to accept correction and be open for rejection. In order to nourish growth, drop the ego and be teachable.
I was selected to be part of the Executive Coaching Program, a career-development partnership between a US-based company and the University of Auckland. My mentor could only help me when I am receptive to the insights and experiences she wishes to offer. Similarly, I can only succeed in my field if I am willing to be trained, even when it means humbling myself enough to be corrected as well as to be instructed.
The corporate world is littered with failures of people who had great potentials. However, possessing intelligence and skill sets to perform the job well may not be enough. When people are unwilling to learn and assume that they already know everything, or acting obstinate and refusing to receive well-intended instruction, it lessens their likelihood to genuinely succeed. People with teachable spirit commits to learn something new every day, seek counsel from others and reflect afterwards–and they find joy in doing so. After all, we are never too old or too accomplished to learn.
“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.”–Proverbs 9:9.