Is the pursuit of success getting in the way of your happiness

Is the pursuit of success getting in the way of your happiness?

Richard Appleby

It’s easy for leaders to get caught up in their professional pursuits and ignore other parts of their lives that some would say are more important. In these cases, it’s easy for them to not only lose track of what it takes to be successful, but also how these achievements create happiness in their daily lives.

I recently saw a YouTube video that really resonated with me, it was about staying positive by Andrew Matthews. We all want to be successful, but some of us are guilty of getting discouraged or disappointed when we don’t reach our goals or hit targets as soon as we expect to.

Thankfully, as Andrew reminds us, it’s not difficult to adjust your mind set to a positive one. It’s simply a case of knowing what to look for and what to ignore.

Happiness is not an accident

It’s easy to look around at other happy, successful people and assume it’s something they stumbled upon or walked into. This isn’t the case, and it’s this type of mind set that won’t help you to be happy.

What happy and successful people do is focus on what they want, and think about how they can go about achieving it, rather than what other people have.

Tennis offers a simple analogy to reinforce the point. If you’re coming up to serve and start thinking about what will happen if you double fault, guess what? That’s exactly what you’ll get.

If we decide what we want and are able to focus our will on it, chances are we’ll be able to achieve that and be successful.

If you promise something, do it

I’ve encountered people before who talk about how important their family is to them, but rather than act on these assertions, they do the opposite, throwing themselves into work and travel and forgetting what they said in the first place. The result? Everyone ends up being miserable. People pursue success but ignore happiness in the meantime.

In my experience, it’s because people go about it backwards. Instead of taking stock of what they have and thinking “what do I need to succeed?”, they look at what other people have and get disheartened.

Success is not something that happens overnight

While creating the mindset necessary to be successful is simple, this doesn’t mean the results occur quickly. It’s one thing to be focussed on wanting to be successful and looking at what you need to do, but you also need to be persistent.

The other barrier to success, aside from not being able to put the effort in over a long period of time, is a fear of failure. It is a daunting prospect, but a true leader knows there’s no success without failure, especially as many pursuits will require risks and experimentation as they develop.

Even some of the world’s most famous leaders have been through this. Everyone remembers Abraham Lincoln for his effect on American politics. What they often don’t realise, however, is that this success came after years of failings, any number of which could have crushed his spirit and taken his mind off the goal.

For example, he failed in business a number of times, had his wife pass away, suffered a nervous breakdown and lost various congressional races, all before he turned 50. At 60, however, he succeeded in becoming not just the President of The United States, but one of the most well-regarded leaders in all of human history.

The moral of that example is that he stayed positive. Sure, there were setbacks, but his focus on the overall goal and continued tenacity saw him become successful.

Success and happiness don’t always go together. But with the right mindset, and a persistent focus, leaders can put the two together.


Richard ApplebyBy Richard Appleby, TEC Chair