Don't Aim for Success

Success is elusive when sought after directly. To understand why, you must understand the nature of it.

“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.” — Viktor Frankl

Pursue success directly and it will elude you, just as the electron eluded Heisenberg.

According to the Observer Effect in physics, the act of direct observation results in a disturbance to the system. When Heisenberg used photons to locate an electron, it changed velocity and moved to an excited state. He found measurement of both location and velocity at the same time impossible.

Success is similar to the electron. It is impossible to pin down directly. That is because both exhibit the properties of a wave. At best, you can predict the probability of them being in a general location.

If success cannot be pursued directly, then how do you achieve it? Must you determine probabilities? Why is it so elusive? And what does Frankl mean when he says "it must ensue?"

The answer lies in how you define success.

Is success an act of achievement or is it a byproduct? Society defines success by achievement. Winning an award, getting an A in class or even reaching the age of adulthood — all achievements worthy of success.

Family, friends and society heap expectation upon you. Most, if not all, of those expectations lead to meaningless achievements. Such achievements leave you feeling hollow, empty.

Success without meaning is a mirage. It is fools gold. You spend most of your time chasing it, yearning for it. But with each achievement born of expectation, you realize the chase itself is an empty pursuit.

Success, like happiness, is the byproduct of doing something meaningful. It radiates from the pursuit of meaning, not from the fleeting achievement of expectation.

Ignore success and do what you find meaningful. Success will then find you as surely as the sun rises tomorrow.