The Function of Success

Photo by jose aljovin on Unsplash

Quite a while back I promised that I would elaborate on two functions that I posited: The Function of Success and the Function of Opportunity. Today I wanted to focus on success; more specifically, career success.

The function of career success is nice because it is relatively simple and really only relies on four major factors: passion, strengths, demand, and growth. Passion is how much you want to do something. Strength is how good you are at doing it. Demand is how much others want you to do it. And growth is how much you’ll learn from doing that thing. Preferably you’ll want to find an opportunity that scores high in all four of these segments. Of course, that very rarely happens, and while I think each of these four characteristics holds equal weight in the full equation, I wanted to go into each of them in-depth so that you could decide for yourself which aspect you think is the most important.

Passion and strength are among the easiest to understand parts of the function. Passion simply revolves around all the things you enjoy doing. The best way to increase the prevalence of passion is by trying a lot of different things; after all, you never know whether you like something unless you’ve tried it once or twice.

Strength isn’t always connected to passion, but typically it is. Usually, we enjoy doing things that we’re good at and don’t enjoy doing things that we’re not good at. And, in the case that you start out bad at something you enjoy, you’ll typically be willing to put in the hours to make yourself better at it. So matching passion to strength, in my opinion, isn’t really something you need to worry about too much.

Demand is where things get a little bit more tricky. Alas, we live in a marketplace and not an isolated cage, and so if you want to be rewarded for something, you have to make something other people want. This will serve to cut off a lot of the Passion/Strength skills you may have developed, but typically you’re still going to have at least some skill that you can just to barter in the labor market. As an example, some very high demand skills out there right now are machine learning, business analysis, software engineering, and growth-hacking.

Speaking of growth-hacking, you’ll have to hack your own growth in order to maximize the function. Growth, in essence, means to take on positions that will allow you to increase your total number of skills in such a way that it maxes out the Strength, Passion, and Demand sections of the function. Typically (though not always), positions in startups are good to increase Growth, as the positions are loose and you’ll typically work on a whole cornucopia of tasks, typically in high Demand areas.

So, in essence, these are the main features of success, career-wise and beyond. The function of success also correlates a lot to the function of opportunity, which is something much more complex and will be something we get into later on.

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