Hile Rutledge
Trainer, author

Hile Rutledge

CEO and owner of OKA (Otto Kroeger Associates), a training and consulting firm specializing in leadership and team development.


3 key ingredients

Success is both a subjective and ever-changing target. A dozen people may well have a couple dozen different opinions of what success is and who has achieved it. Money is the standard for some, power for others, while connection to friends or familiy is where it is at for others. All three are required by some others, in some specific triangulated relationship.

Reuven Bar-On's model of emotional intelligence (underpinning the EQ-i assessment) gives us a number of angles to explore our own definitions and pursuits of success. Chief among these are self actualization, happiness and optimism.

Self actualization refers to your willingness, ability and drive to improve yourself -- to strive to get better and be fulfilled. Self actualization is more about the striving than the arrival at any goal, so your degree of self actualization has a critical role in defining your success at any time with any endeavor.

If you define yourself as successful, you likely tend to engage frequently and perhaps even intensely with self actualization. You are likely driven to push forward, get smarter and be stronger -- to accomplish things and to meet enough goals to justify your continued engagement.

If you tend not to engage frequently or well with self actualization, you likely have little drive to improve and success -- its attainment or even its definition in your life -- is likely of little interest.

Two other elements of emotional intelligence that tie tightly into success are optimism and happiness. Optimism relates to the degree to which you can and tend to see the future as a hopeful, positive place, and happiness is the degree to which you tend to embrace the process of life -- work, home, the whole shooting match -- with joy and satisfaction.

People who define themselves as successful tend to be both optimistic and happy. It takes an optimistic view (coupled with some active self-actualization) to have the faith in the future you need to even engage in the process of task accomplishment or self-improvement. Were you to lack optimism, you would tend to feel there was no point in even trying or sticking it out when times got tough. And it takes happiness to give you the life energy--the juice--to enjoy the process of trying anything. The very concept of success (as opposed to attainment or completion, which are more neutral terms) suggests some sense of celebration or satisfaction.

While success can be defined in many ways and measured by many more, it is clear that if you are successful, you tend to be optimistic and happy (or at least are not a stranger to these outlooks and feelings) and you have a healthy engagement with self-actualization.

Successful people, therefore, set goals and work toward them, believe the future holds the possibility, if not the promise, of better times and tend to enjoy the process of living.

By Hile Rutledge  |  January 7, 2010; 10:36 PM ET  | Category:  Defining success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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