The article had me at its title: “Your Success Isn’t Always About You.”
The point of the interview that is summarized in The New York Times:
Individual success is not only an outgrowth of a smart idea or talent or plenty of hard work, but… “you get lucky.”
That luck may come in the form of a chance meeting, a confluence of external factors, or, says Deborah Bial in this corner office interview, great parents.
Leadership Factors: Social Justice, Respect
Ms. Bial is the president and founder of the Posse Foundation, an organization that supports public high school students in their college application process, not only by providing scholarships when students are accepted, but through its screening, training, and support of an on-campus “posse” to further encourage students.
Ms. Bial also comments that “social justice” is a motivator for her. Wouldn’t we love for more of our leaders to feel that way?
Other remarks in this interview strike me as important as well, whether we’re concerned with personal relationships, personal goals or professional success.
For example, Ms. Bial notes that her parents asked for input from her and her sister when they were growing up, and were attentive to their views.
How many parents facilitate that sort of agency in their children, thus contributing to self-esteem in a way that seems natural? How many parents demonstrate respect as a given, rather than “something to be earned?”
Letting Go of the Need to be Liked
This quote in particular caught my attention, as Ms. Bial says:
I used to care a lot that people liked me. That’s no longer as much the case. Of course, nobody wants not to be liked, but… I remember feeling liberated when it no longer influenced my decision-making.
How many of us have taken decades to learn that lesson – and still struggle with it? How many women especially feel an overwhelming need to be liked? How does that need get in the way of doing what has to get done? Saying what has to be said? Worrying how we come across rather than how we meet attain our objectives?
How Do You Define Success?
My views when it comes to success?
First, we need to know what success looks like, and recognize that our concepts of success will change throughout our lives. Whether we’re talking about a good marriage, good parenting, building a business or achieving a personal dream – identifying the parameters of what we want is vital to accomplishing it. But that doesn’t mean we cannot tweak or even significantly alter those parameters.
For example, I wanted to be a novelist or poet in my teens and twenties, and even into my thirties. Getting there seemed impossible – “real life” was far too demanding, and… my notions of success had morphed to be about parenting and journalism.
And, I got lucky… A combination of timing and persistence landed me a freelance gig writing about art, which led to other opportunities pursuing what I loved.
Now that doesn’t mean that this isn’t true: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, then build a door.” In fact, I consider “creative persistence” to be a vital element in achieving anything of value.
The Secret to Your Success?
I do not believe we should wait around for success to magically find us. We must make opportunities for ourselves. But we should also understand and acknowledge the many foundational elements in perceiving opportunity, much less creating it and capitalizing on it. Naturally, factors in our success include great ideas, determination, perseverance, intuition, resilience – and teamwork.
And as Ms. Bial says, luck plays a significant role – whether teachings from our parents (good or bad), the example of a motivating failure, or a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. I will add: approaching the journey as success in and of itself, though we do not discount the drive to the goal.
On a related note, the Posse Foundation is an nonprofit organization that is certainly worth applauding.
From the Posse website:
… Since 1989, [5,574] students—many of whom might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes—have been receiving four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner institutions of higher education.
The site also notes a 90% graduation rate among Posse Scholars, an exceptional achievement when you view college completion statistics these days.
Quite a success, don’t you agree?
You May Also Enjoy