They Lied To You About Success
How To Be Successful, No Matter What Happens
In 2009 Adolf Merckle, tragically took his own life.
At the time, he was one of the wealthiest people in Germany with an estimated Net-Worth of 9 Billion Euros (with a capital B).
Despite being one of the wealthiest people alive, his death was seemingly correlated to the loss of large sums of money in the stock market.
By any stretch of the imagination, he was still a wealthy man. Still, it appeared that he was devastated by his perceived losses and the distortion of his identity as a "cautious trader".
In 2021, Alex Kearns faced a similar fate because he believed that he had lost over $700,000 due to trading with leverage.
In this seemingly dire situation, Alex did not have the money to cover his losses.
The 20-year-old similarly threw himself in front of an oncoming train.
The tragic twist was that the day after Alex took his own life, the trading platform sent an automated email suggesting the particular trade had been resolved, and he didn't owe any money. So the loss was an illusion.
Money As a Measuring Stick.
I'm not going to lie to you; money is obviously important.
There is often a correlation between your income and how much value you are creating for society.
The problem arises when we use money as the only tool to measure our success. This incomplete metric is like committing to a relationship based on looks alone.
If money is the only number you use to value yourself, a financial loss will result in a radical shift in your identity.
If you do choose to use money as one of your metrics, some questions to ask yourself are:
How much money do I have, need, and want?
What are other metrics besides money that are important to me?
Success as External Validation
Success is a word that tends to bring up emotions such as ambition, fear, and envy.
We were never taught about how to succeed, well, at least not directly.
As a result, we seek external validation based on the expectations of others because of societal conditioning.
Traditional schooling taught you to follow the instructions, memorise the material, and execute right on your first attempt. The shallow metrics were grades and attendance, valuing your ability to remember and regurgitate rather than your ability to socialise and think creatively.
When you fail in school, you are deemed unteachable, subconsciously programming in you that failure=bad and success=compliance.
We compare ourselves to others because, throughout life, we are rewarded and punished based on meeting other people standards and not our own.
Our jobs also seem to measure our professional success based on arbitrary criteria or Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) set out for you by someone else.
You end up using these shallow metrics to define your personal success while comparing yourself to others in a destructive practice of "keeping up with the Joneses".
Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM between 1956 and 1971, was a key figure in the information revolution.
Watson was wise and repeatedly demonstrated his abilities as a leader. One recollection tells of a time where Watson was able to reframe failure.
A young executive had made some bad decisions that cost the company several million dollars.
He was summoned to Watson's office, fully expecting to be dismissed. As he entered the office, the young executive said, "I suppose after that set of mistakes, you will want to fire me."
Watson was said to have replied, "Not at all, young man, we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you."
Value your failures, but do not amplify them.
Ray Dalio, one of the most successful traders globally, said, "I learned that there is an incredible beauty to mistakes. Each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more successful."
In school, we were taught to hide our failures rather than embellish in the lessons they can teach us.
I'm not suggesting that you fail at everything, but if you fail or make a mistake, make sure to extract the golden nugget of wisdom.
You must also build on top of other peoples failures. Warren Buffet wisely stated that "It's good to learn from your mistakes. It's better to learn from other people's mistakes."
Treating your ventures and goals like experiments allows you to progress scientifically towards your future successes.
Measure What Really Matters
Personal Metrics Is a Powerful Tool To Keep Us Accountable
Your metrics, defined by your values, will guide your decision making and fuel your performance.
Defining your current metrics takes self-awareness, as your ambitions and values will be deeply personal.
True success comes from carefully choosing your own set of rules and metrics; Then measuring against them. Your metrics should encapsulate the habits that will lead to your goals.
Day-to-day, I try to rank my current personal metrics on a scale from 1/10.
Unlike a rudimentary goal, measuring what matters is based on momentum.
Give yourself the opportunity for consistent, scalable, and controllable success on your terms.
The Challenge - Creating Individual Success Metrics
I implore you to choose three metrics based on your values that you can track and help you guide your decision making.
Base your metrics on elements within your control, use a ranking system or work towards a recurring predetermined score or percentage increase.
The most important question is to ask yourself why?
Why do you want that form of success, and what will it make of you in the process.
Your "Why" will help keep you on track when you feel yourself waining because you will fail from time to time.
You Are Responsible For Your Success
In summary, It is common to choose a single metric like money to define one's success.
However, a successful person has more depth to their wealth than a single metric.
Some investors reward themselves for following their rules. Whether a trade goes for or against them, it is not the outcome that is important. The crucial metric is "how well did they follow their plan".
Once you have set your metrics, it is on you to follow through. You are responsible and must hold yourself accountable.
It's human nature to look to others and compare life, and some level of competition is healthy. So challenge yourself to learn from their mistakes and follow their clues towards success.
If you are not succeeding, use the experience to learn and extract wisdom from failures.
Reflect on your choices and habits using your values and beliefs.
When you settle on your personal success metrics, define why are you doing it? Not How.
You were born into this life a success, and hopefully, you will leave the same way on your own terms.