In a conversation last weekend with a childhood friend, who recently lost her second case as a new litigation attorney, I was asked if I thought she would ever be successful. My response was “…you were successful when you passed the bar exam”. The logic for my response was from the TED Talk by Sarah Lewis entitled “Embrace the near win”. Lewis explains that success means hitting a target, and mastery is knowing it means nothing if you can’t do it again and again. Mastery is in the reaching, and not the arriving; it’s in constantly wanting to close the gap of where you are to where you want to be. My friend came very close to winning her first two cases, and I encouraged her to “embrace the near win” because it changes our view of the landscape and pulls our goals, which are typically at a distance, in a proximity to where we stand. I then watched the TED Talk with her:
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After watching the TED Talk together we agreed that we should not attempt to be “more successful” than someone. We agreed that being highly successful means having acquired a bunch of unrelated wins and not yet achieving mastery in anything. We will not use the term successful to describe someone’s greatness. As a fellow NBA fan, my friend confirmed that she understood my enthusiasm for embracing near wins by exclaiming that both Bill Russell and Michael Jordan became successful when each achieved his first ring, and considered a master when each achieved his last. They are both great indeed, she said, but masters are masters because they realize that there is no conceptual end…
As I now ponder about my own impending successes-being awarded a Key to the City, nominated for a highly sought board seat, and selected to grace a Forbes cover to name a few, I realize that my work still won’t be done when I hit these targets. We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.
Until next time…