These days more startups I meet, more disappointed I am. It is not their ideas or their somewhat blurry focus that disappoints me. Instead it is their complete lack of understanding of what is success. The difference between success and failure is no more than shadow play between a set of continuously changing conditions. As long as you know what success means.
Is getting a million people to download your app success even though no one uses the app for days at length? Is convincing an investor to put money in your company because of those million downloads a success? Or is success in getting thousands – if not millions – of people to use your app or service or product everyday? Knowing what success is to you is perhaps the first step towards realization of success itself. If you don’t know success, then you are always going to be chasing chimera.
You can see that with today’s politicians. Instead of defining success in terms of helping improve the lives of their constituents and the nation they pretend to serve, politicians define success as getting re-election, which in turn prompts them to make decisions that are inherently short term. Company leaders make decisions based on meeting the quarterly targets and appeasing Wall Street. To them, that is success, instead of building products that are good and offering services that serve the customer best. Success, you see is your internal barometer and not some artificial set of metrics that are changing all the time.
As far as I am concerned, knowing what success means is more important than anything else. For me, success is finding a handful of people who share my world view and read what I have to say. If one person emails me with their thoughts or engages in a healthy conversation, that’s success. For a t-Shirt designer, finding people who can relate to his designs enough to put on that t-shirt is success. Everything else – fame and fortune for example- are merely an outcome of success.