I have said in a previous post that success is most meaningful when we are able to look back and appreciate the journey, the process of which success is outcome.
It is important to delineate, however, that the look back effect is exactly what it is, a look back effect meaning we are unable to look back with nostalgia or some sense of accomplishment whenever the journey does not result in some form of success.
The fact of the matter is if we are not achieving some success, we stop learning, stop trying, redirect our efforts.
Prior to arrival of divorce in my first marriage, I coached my sons in amateur soccer leagues in capacity of a volunteer. There was a year I was so stressed out, I decided to coach my second son only, and allow my older son to be coached by another volunteer coach.
My older son’s team lost and lost and lost. Midway through the soccer season, there was no joy on the team, the boys and girls just went through the motions, the kids just showed up. On the field, they showed no heart just went through the motions. Why? Their coach did not care they were losing. As far as he was concerned, it was amateur league and winning was not important. Those kids ended up losing every single game that season. Did not win a single game out of about 7 games. Not a single one of those kids enjoyed playing soccer that season. Losing all the time sucked the joy out of the entire experience.
The next season, I coached both my older son and my second son. There was no way I was allowing my older son go through such an experience again, not so soon after the debacle of the last soccer season. We broke even that season. Won as many as we lost. That was good enough for me. My younger son’s team? We went undefeated against good opposition. That also was good enough for me. The important thing was there was success that could be celebrated.
Regardless of the fact we only broke even, the ten kids on my older son’s team enjoyed playing soccer that season because every loss potentially led to a win the following week. They learnt losing this week does not mean you cannot win the next week. Those kids never lost joy of playing soccer the entire season. The best part? I never beat them over the head about losing. I just showed I cared that they enjoy themselves and win. The kids knew I was more upset for them than for my ego whenever we lost so they showed up the next week more determined than ever to win. More often than not they did so we broke even.
Every week I had to find a way to motivate those kids to believe they could win. But if I did not care whether they won or lost, they easily could have lost every game that season. The opposing teams were that good. Showing I cared made the kids care more than they ordinarily would. This after all is part of the essence of having a coach on a team. Motivation for success. I believed in those kids. They responded with their best efforts and against all odds pulled off a successful season. Against the sort of opposition we faced, breaking even was success.
People who do not care whether their efforts result in some form of success eventually lose motivation to learn, eventually lose capacity to inspire others.
If someone is exercising effort that is not likely to be recognized or rewarded within an organization, turning that effort into a learning point is an initial reward, a response that induces such a person to redirect effort in a different direction. If such a person continues to exert effort but never receives feedback on the effort, unless such a person is a self starter who can figure things out for himself or herself, eventually the motivation to exert effort dies a natural death.
We never must underestimate importance of incentive of success for embarking on and continuing on a journey of learning, innovation, output, and productivity. The journey is meaningful because success is possible. Standing at the point of success, the journey becomes all that is meaningful because if the success is held on to, there is no room for another journey for arrival at next level of success. At point of success, it is visualization of a higher level of success that creates incentive for another journey. It is nostalgia of a journey successfully completed that provides impetus for a new journey. In the light of a new visualization of success, success already achieved ceases to be a matter of focus such that lessons learnt from journey already completed become highlight of our experience.
Without possibility of success, and without achievement of success, all journeys eventually lose their appeal. Past success wanes relative to the journey itself because we mostly need lessons from journeys already completed for attainment of new levels of success.
If we desire our journey to be rewarded with success, where it lies within our power, we also must endeavor to reward others’ journeys with success.
In summary, standing at point of success, it is the journey we reminisce about, but this is because success is attained, and we already are visualizing the next level of success, not because success is irrelevant. Without any anticipation of success all journeys of life become meaningless. It is visions of success that give spring to our steps in journey of life.