What are You Aiming for?

How do you know when you have achieved success? Is it money in the bank or the excitement of the moment when you achieve a milestone? Is it all of the above or is it something more? In the first of a series of regular articles, professional performance coach and clinical psychotherapist Jim O’Connor examines the definition and psychology of success and why happiness matters.

HOW DO you define ‘success’ in real estate? Is it having loads of listings, sales, property under management, achieving your personal goals and maxing profits? Or is there something more to success than a bunch of numbers and volume?

My aim as a regular columnist will be to explain to you the psychology of professional performance so you can get the best out of your life and career. I’m going to introduce you to beliefs and behaviours, strategies and practices that will enable you to succeed at the highest level without losing your mojo to the sales funnel.

Let’s start by looking at success.

What is it you’re really aiming for as you pursue your career and live your life? It will cause you some difficulties if you start chasing after something when you don’t know what that something is. You don’t want to exemplify the line from that great rock classic “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” (thanks Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry – great song) because you didn’t know what ‘it’ looked like.

The trick to unravelling this puzzle is not to ask what you’re looking for but why you’re looking for it. Spending countless hours on the phone is not where you want to be if you’re not clear about your ‘why’. The ‘why’, or in more conventional psych terms your ‘intention’, affects everything. Your intention sets the purpose of your decisions, your perceptions, your behaviours. Your intentions matter.

I remember something I heard a very long time ago. Here’s my paraphrase, ‘What gains you if you win the whole world but lose your mojo along the way?’ It actually comes out of the Bible and has really stuck in my head. What do you gain if you win the whole world but you’re miserable for having won it?

Success is not just about the numbers; it’s about keeping your ‘mojo’ alive while you achieve the numbers. If you don’t believe me yet, I’m sure you’ve seen the ‘Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ somewhere on the Internet and you can relate to it in some way. (If you haven’t seen it, Google it now.)

Who cares if you have a whole load of numbers beside your name, you’ve smashed a bunch of milestones, even walked on hot coals (yep, done that) if at the end of the day you aren’t happy and enthusiastic about what you’re doing? Success is not just about the numbers. Oh yes, the numbers matter, but they aren’t everything.

But there’s more to success than just feeling good, isn’t there? It’s about resilience as well. No one gets through life without getting knocked over a few times, so success is also about your ability to pick yourself up, struggle and adapt. Success is about being courageous in the face of difficulties; it’s about optimism when the cards fall the wrong way. Success is also about a commitment to make the best of this thing called life and career.

In fact, if we really unpack what true, authentic success is, it would have to include a lot of important attributes. It would also have to include your ability to form secure, complementary relationships, as well as your ability to give and receive positive regard. Your ability to express and accept positive emotions by definition makes you a happier, higher-functioning person.

For the cynics out there, be careful not to deride happiness. Happy, secure, emotionally balanced people are much more likely to be successful; they tend to attract more opportunities, they have more motivation, more enthusiasm and more resilience. Happy people are often more efficient than unhappy people. The most successful people demonstrate mastery of a wide range of high-quality attributes, not just numbers and drive.

In performance psychology- speak success is measured by your ability to satisfy all your needs and wants. The ‘journey’ of success is simply learning how to grow this ability. Personally I prefer to think of success in my life and career as a great adventure because it sounds a lot more exciting, but it helps to know that there is a scientific basis to all this.

This brings me to an important question: how do you know you’re a success? Fortunately that’s fairly easy to answer. You’re a success when you have a desire to engage positively with your life and career. More specifically, you’re a success when you feel optimistic; you function at a high level and you perceive this thing called life with confidence and enthusiasm.

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Jim O'Connor

Jim O’Connor is a professional performance coach and clinical psychotherapist. His clients include professionals and executives from some of the smallest to some of the largest companies in the world.