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“Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.  For success — like happiness — cannot be pursued; it must ensue … as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” 

- Viktor Frankel


Success is a result.

It must ensue.

It is not a target.

For example, if I really want to receive accolades, applause, and public recognition of success, I of course need to target what I am going to do to cause that reaction.

Of course.

But what if I define success as, say, being respected as a leading expert in my field?  I guess that must mean that I should target developing and utilizing my expertise…

What does it mean when I define success as simply being liked?  I guess that would mean I should target being likable; interacting with people in ways that produce good feelings.  It might also mean that I need to be highly skilled in being self-aware, and have the ability to read reactions…

And what if success for me was all about loving, and being loved?  I guess that would mean I would need to target … being … lovable?  I guess I would need to be very skilled in learning what behaviors significant others consider … loving?

So, instead of targeting the effect, we need to target the cause.

Because we don’t own the effect!  But we very definitely own the cause!

Or, said another way, the effect is only controllable by us to the extent that we control the cause.

Action, reaction.  Cause, effect.

Reactions and effects ensue.  Actions, and causes, are for us to pursue.

*     *     *     *     *

So what cause should you pursue?

What should you throw yourself into?  What should you dedicate yourself to doing?  What would be a pursuit that would be greater than yourself?

What is it that makes you special, unique?  What extraordinary skills and abilities can you utilize to their fullest?

Of course, it is not likely that you’ll go to bed one night asking the questions, and wake up in the morning with the answers.

There might be three years in between those good night questions and the good morning answers.

Or thirty.

However long it takes, I think it’s being open to possibility, as we fumble our way through our work and life.  It’s experiencing, and learning.  It’s discovering …

And then pursuing.

Your success will ensue.

It must.