The definition of success: growing

13 10 2013

Thomas Edison Failure quote

Is it enough for you to do your work well? Even if you aren’t the best? I’m finding that, yes. As long as I feel like I have learned and I have been successful, I am satisfied, and I think God is satisfied. Maybe I haven’t given my best in one specific area this mini. But I feel like I have given my best overall with the time and resources that I had. Could I have done more? Of course. But I didn’t have the time, resources, or energy to do so.

The reason that I work hard: 

Work Hard colossians-3-23

I learned an interesting lesson this mini. I worked on the information security homework that I had for over 15 hours. It was long and challenging, but a good learning opportunity. I learned and researched about a lot that I didn’t know previously. However, I had to turn it in at a certain point in time. The assignment was due at midnight, and whether or not I had completed my research, I had to turn it in then. If I didn’t have to turn it in then, I probably would have kept working on it; however, I had done a lot of work at that point. I had learned a lot. Maybe I hadn’t fully answered the question with all my being, but I had answered it, I had spent time researching it, and I felt like I had a good enough answer. The last 20% of the answer will take you 80% of the time, right (Pareto principle)? I am starting to learn to be satisfied with giving what I can, rather than giving all that I can. I think it’s a healthy place for me to be.

I’ve given up the expectation that I will make everyone happy. Of course, I strive to keep everyone happy, but in leading a club at school, I’ve come to see that I can expend a lot of energy into B&T and it still won’t be the best club that it could ever be. There will always be things to improve. This makes life somewhat exciting, and somewhat frustrating at the same time. The work will never be done! But then again, there will always be ways that you can jump into something and improve it.

Being the president of B&T has been a very interesting experience for me. I have tried to lead well and I hope my board members would agree. They might not though. They might have said that I could have been more on top of things. Or I should have been less demanding. Or that I should have been more attentive to recruiting matters rather than to creating community and training. There were things that I hoped to focus on leading this club, and part of that has been helping people understand technology and talk about technology. Originally, I really wanted to focus on creating good interactions with the CS department here at CMU. Unfortunately, I decided to not focus on that after running into some organizational challenges/walls on their end and recognizing that my time could be better spent in different areas in which I had strengths to really help the club. I think focus is important. Sure, we have a diverse set of members who would like to focus on many areas, so that makes it a little more tricky on knowing where to focus. I feel like as long as I’m helping and making it better in some regards, I’m succeeding. Maybe that’s a lame way to look at things (and others think it’s a cop out for lack of success), but really, can you change the whole world? Can you completely revolutionize something in 6 months? Don’t you have to start in some ways? Maybe that’s small. Maybe someone else could have made a bigger change that I did. However, I know that my board has done really good things, even if it’s just been setting up internal processes so that the next board has good technology and organized files so they know what has happened in the past, which will give them a head start for the future.

I guess the question is, what is success? If you improve by 1%, is that success? If you improve by 50% is that success? Is there a certain measurement that you have to hit in order for you to be considered successful?

I think after working on that InfoSec homework project, I realized what success looked like to me. Success for me meant that I grew. Honestly, I really didn’t care that much if I failed the homework assignment, because I learned something! Yes, I was a homeschool kid, and I think this is evident in the way that I approach school. Learning is the end-all. The grade, the degree, the prestige: theses items are not why I came to school. That’s not how I approach life. My second strength from “Strengths Quest” is Learner. It’s so evident in the way that I live. I am satisfied if I have learned something. To me, success means that I grew.

Think of it — if you’re an entrepreneur, and your venture fails, the VCs that you go to next time with your project won’t decline to give you money because you failed in your last attempt. Generally, they want to see that you have tried something and failed, because they know that you learn so much in that moment of failure. By putting things into practice you learn. You may not have made the greatest product, but you know how to do it better the next time. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Or like Kelly Clarkson — “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.


Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th. – Julie Andrews

It is my hope that I will continue to persevere in the times of trials, but be satisfied with knowing that I have learned and made a difference in some way.

That said, my achiever side is still hoping for A’s and A+’s in Mini 1 🙂



An interesting infographic for how many times people have failed before their success:





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