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December 2002 > Director-Sponsor
Volume 42, Issue 4
Letter from Linda
How Do You Spell Success?
by Linda Oestreich, Director-Sponsor, Region 5
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?
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.
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.