The Business Dictionary defines ‘success’ as follows:

  1. Achievement of an action within a specified period of time or within a specified parameter. Success can also mean completing an objective or reaching a goal. Success can be expanded to encompass an entire project or be restricted to a single component of a project or task. It can be achieved within the workplace, or in an individual’s personal life. For example, if an individual’s personal goal is to be accepted in a new career, success would occur after the individual has been officially accepted into his or her new place of employment.
  2. Colloquial term used to describe a person that has achieved his or her personal, financial or career goals.

What stands out is the emphasis on the individual and yet many still measure success on the basis of the external, especially the perception of numbers. Recently, it was announced that Kanye West was a billionaire and, therefore, a model of accomplishment to be held up and revered. I have struggled with this. I don’t know him as a person. How does making a lot of money elevate him, or anyone else?

The numbers game has never been how I have defined my value or my success. The number of people who decide to like my pictures or share my tweets or comment on my Facebook status updates or follow me on any of the social media platforms can’t be a measure of my value as a human being. It is an extremely fickle measure because just as easily as someone can follow, someone can unfollow, and I have no control over what they decide to do.

I lived and worked and interacted with the world for years before social media. I have had this site for 10 years and have been blogging for about 15 years. Using follower count or site visits or pageviews as a measure of my success feels like I am negating the work I have put in up till now.

I would probably have given up a long time ago particularly with financial success having been erratic for the last 30 years of working. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. Perhaps that’s also why I didn’t see material wealth as a sign of success. Some might say I need to have a different perspective because I don’t have the money.

Success is a personal thing. We each need to be able to define it for ourselves. Each of us – hopefully – has goals and objectives for our lives. And, life has this wonderful way of throwing curveballs, creating a situation where what you felt at some stage of your life doesn’t feel important any more.

I wanted to be rich. Then I wanted to be a poet who lived comfortably. Now, my focus is on the experiences and the lifestyle, and acquiring what I need to be able live a certain way. And success? Leaving a legacy of sorts. Giving my children a platform from which to achieve whatever it is they want to do. And leaving my little patch of the earth better for my having been in it.

Beyond that?

Simply being able to do what I would like to do when I want to do it. I do like nice things but I also have simple needs. And, by and large, those are already fulfilled.

1 Comment

  1. Silindile Nyathikazi

    “Simply being able to do what I would like to do when I want to do it” – this is exactly how I feel as well.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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