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Four Components of Success

 

Explanations > Meaning > Four Components of Success

Happiness | Achievement | Significance | Legacy | So what

 

Laura Nash and Howard Stephenson, of the Harvard Business School, did a long study of what made people feel an enduring sense of real success, including in-depth interviews with over 60 successful professionals, survey of 90 top executives attending Harvard Business School and anthropological observation of other known high-achievers.  After building this model they tested and proved it in over a dozen sessions with 50 to 100 executives in each. Suffice to say, it is a pretty good model.

In summary, they found four 'irreducible components' that were necessary for people to feel a strong and enduring sense of success.

1. Happiness

Happiness as a felt emotion is defined as feelings of pleasure or contentment about your life. If you are happy, then you feel warm and fulfilled, at least for the moment. When you feel successful, then that happiness is tied to the success and can thus be a long-lasting period of contentment.

2. Achievement

Achievements are accomplishments such that goals we have set ourselves are achieved. As we socially construct our selves, they usually compare favorably against similar goals of other people.

In particular we feel a greater sense of achievement when we have worked hard to achieve a stretching goal where we and others were not sure that it would be possible to meet that goal.

3. Significance

We feel a sense of our own significance when we have made positive impact on other people we care about. The sense of significance grows with the size of the impact and the number of people affected. Thus if I save the world (or maybe just the whales) I will feel pretty significant.

4. Legacy

Our sense of legacy has to do with what we leave behind us. Most of all, if we can establish values that to help others find future success, then we will feel a strong sense of success.

So what?

Helping others to feel successful is a pretty good way of changing minds. So help them to feel happy by helping them to achieve significant goals that they can leave as a legacy.

See also

Acquired Needs Theory

 

Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson (2004). Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life, Wiley

 

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