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Publications > Dateline Houston > December 2002 > Director-Sponsor Report

Volume 42, Issue 4

December 2002

Letter from Linda
How Do You Spell Success?

by Linda Oestreich, Director-Sponsor, Region 5

Fellow STCers,

I just returned from a delightful visit to the Texas A&M campus to speak to the College Station Student Chapter. As students, the chapter members are at the beginning of their careers. They might join the field of technical communication or follow one of a thousand other career paths. How will they determine whether they have succeeded? I don’t know, but I believe they will succeed.

Success is something we feel about ourselves. Some people equate success with money, some with power, some with fame. Some people define success as being content in who they are and what they do. The criteria for success can differ, depending on the context in which you consider them and the focus you bring to them. Although we can define success from many different viewpoints, I have chosen three to consider here:

Time of Life

When I was first on my own, my priority was to have fun. Later, I changed my behavior to do things that would support my family and enhance my professional development. Still later, I began to do things that would help me gain a connection with the world and would in some way help others around me. Can you see how each phase of my life has reflected very different success factors?

Making Money

This success factor incorporates the trappings of our lives: the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive, and the impression we make on others by the things we have collected. Somewhat incongruously, family obligations show up again. Making money to support a family is
success of a kind different from making money to drive an expensive car.

Feeling Fulfilled

Various things feed our personal, introspective selves. The things that fulfill me on a spiritual level also make me feel successful. Interestingly, strong family connections again show up as an important aspect of that sense of fulfillment.

Although family shows up for me in each area, career (and thus STC) doesn’t show up at all! As I think about this fact, I realize that career is there, but it’s there indirectly. I need a career to have professional development. I need a career to make money. I need a career to feel fulfilled. It turns out that I need a career to help me have the means to do other things, but the career itself is not the actual thing that shows up when I think of success.

I believe success is what we want it to be. And we usually want it to be something different from what we wanted last year—or 10 years ago. I also believe we can be successful in some areas of our lives but not so in others, and it is up to us to figure out whether that’s OK. Some of us have challenging, difficult work lives but have fulfilling relationships, a strong bond with family members, and a good sense of self. To me, such a person is more of a success than the person who makes millions of dollars but has no friends, no feeling of contentment, and weak (or no) bonds with family.

Alex Noble wrote, “Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather is the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.” I believe he was right. May your journey bring you the spirit of success.

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