Success and “Succesful” – what’s the fuss all about?

MaryEllen Tribby posted an article about “The Success Indicators” on the HuffPost Small Business blog. That was in September 2012. It didn’t get a lot of notice or airtime until this graphic came to light around New Years.

I linked to it on my Facebook page despite the typos. (You DID see them, didn’t you?) I felt it had a positive and thought-provoking message. Apparently there are lots of detractors. If you go back and read Tribby’s post, you will discover that she came up with this list after studying entrepeneurs and what traits were in common among the successful ones.

It’s not rocket science. Generally speaking, generous and creative people are more fun to be around than attention-seeking, self-aggrandizing ones. They are more rewarding to work for, too. And many entrepreneurs I’ve met decide to go into business for themselves because they have a passion and a vision that does not fit in corporate boxes.

So why all the heartburn about this graphic? Is it a big “FAIL” because there are typos on the chart? (BTW – an edited version has been up on the website for some time… you can find it here!)


Is it too “judgmental” because it suggests causation instead of trends in one’s personal attitudes and actions? Is it too stratified and not integrative? Can someone try to encompass all of the “successful” traits and still not achieve their goals of financial acumen? It’s probably a mix of above.

If you go back to Libby’s article and her website, you can put this graphic in context. Her point is not that one puts OTHER people in categories, but that we look that these traits and consider where and how one can personally grow. In management terms, it’s called a “Personal Growth Management” plan. (Google that one and you’ll find books, seminars, and much more.)

There’s more to this from a Christian perspective. When I began to pray about what I would keep as my goals and plans for 2013, I considered some of the categories of spiritual growth which were important to me. There’s really not one tool or image that can portray them all. The Navigators use a “wheel”. Other groups suggest it has a blueprint that you follow (very strictly and carefully). Or they envision spiritual formation as a tree or as an continuous path of growth like a chambered nautilus.

The point was, for me, where have I been growing? And what are my next steps to continue growing and strengthening my faith walk? I found there was plenty of room for change in my life. I don’t want to stagnate. And the Holy Spirit is quite gracious to keep nudging me along.

Here’s the real kicker… we all have those “moments” where we lean towards the “unsuccessful” traits. We don’t want to change. We say we want to achieve one goal and then self-sabotage. We act more like power-hungry valet, Thomas than like Anna, the sweet head housemaid. (If you aren’t getting that Downton Abbey illustration, wander over here. ) I can decide to grow through and past my personal limitations and failures, or I can use them as excuses. Being human I will probably do both in the coming year. Being optimistic, I’ll keep striving towards more consistently representing my faith and God by becoming “successful.” Eventually!

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