Back in the day, you needed money to live a happy life. Money can buy happiness — not true, but it was the buzzword for leaders and common households worldwide.
Today, success has become the hallmark of our society, and we are bombarded with messages that tell us that we need to be successful to be happy. Whether it’s through social media, advertising, or the opinions of our peers, the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming.
Children are forced to aim high and work ambitiously right from school. Employees try to impress their managers and get promoted right from Day 1. And future leaders strive to get recognized with 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 awards, trying hard to build their empires to be the best.
However, success can be a double-edged sword, and the pursuit of it can sometimes be detrimental to our mental and emotional health. In this blog post, we’ll explore the pressures of success lists. We’ll also discuss why finding fulfillment may be a more meaningful goal for future leaders.
The Pressure to Be the Best
The pressure to succeed is everywhere we turn. From an early age, we are told that we need to work hard and achieve great things if we want to be happy and fulfilled. Right from one’s college marks to their daily routine, success can only be attained by hard and tireless work.
Our society places a high value on success, and we are constantly reminded of how we aren’t doing enough through media, advertisements, and even our education system. The problem is that the pursuit of success can come at a high cost.
One of the biggest costs of the pressure to succeed is the toll it takes on our mental health. When we feel like we’re not measuring up to our own or others’ expectations, we can become anxious, stressed, and even depressed.
Too much pressure can also lead to burnout, which could lead to severe consequences. Imagine how unproductive one would be when one is in a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
The Allure of the 30 Under 30 List
One manifestation of our society’s obsession with success is the 30 Under 30 list. This is a list that is published annually by Forbes, and now by other brands, highlighting 30 individuals under the age of 30 who have achieved great success in their fields.
Of course, the criteria to make it to the list is hard and it allures young minds to grab a spot on it. Due to this, being featured on this list is seen as a significant achievement and is often a goal for many young professionals.
People work long hours and scout for referrals and recommendations to make it on the list. “I remember starting a small business of my own and taking it one day at a time was never an option. I wanted to make it big and recruit a hundred people within the first month. I wanted to write a book on my journey and begin my personal branding on LinkedIn at the same time. All this just so I could get recognized and validated for my efforts!” said an entrepreneur based in Assam.
While being on the 30 Under 30 list may be a great ego boost, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the be-all and end-all of success. The list only features a small number of individuals in a handful of industries, and there are many other ways to achieve success and fulfillment in life.
Finding Fulfillment as a Future Leader
Rather than focusing solely on achieving success, future leaders may want to shift their focus to finding fulfillment. Fulfillment is a more holistic approach to life and involves finding meaning and purpose in everything we do.
It’s about finding joy in our work, developing meaningful relationships, and positively contributing to society. You don’t just show up at work and do more than you can cope with. You are intentional about it and enjoy the work you are doing.
One example of a leader who has found fulfillment is Oprah Winfrey. While she is undoubtedly successful, she has also spoken openly about the importance of finding fulfillment in life. She has said, “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”
For Oprah, this has meant using her success and positive influence to make a positive impact on the world. She achieved this noble cause through her philanthropy and advocacy work.
Another example of a leader who has found fulfillment is Elon Musk. While he is often seen as the epitome of success, he has also spoken about the importance of pursuing a fulfilling life.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said, “I don’t think it’s good to achieve too much success too early. You don’t want to be in a position where you can’t have fun anymore.”
For Musk, this has meant pursuing his passions, such as space exploration, and using his success to make a positive impact on the world.
Where Does This Leave Us?
The pressure to succeed can be overwhelming, and the pursuit of success can sometimes be detrimental to our mental and emotional health. While being on the 30 Under 30 list may be a great ego boost, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the only measure of success.
Future leaders should shift their focus to finding fulfillment, which involves finding meaning and purpose in everything they do. It’s important to remember that success and fulfillment are not mutually exclusive and that we can achieve both by taking a more holistic approach to life.
Be the leader who asks his employee to take a break. Be the leader who encourages their son to pursue whatever they want. Be the leader who is ready to make mistakes and face setbacks. Be the leader who has no problem exploring and learning from the subtle details.
As we continue to navigate the pressures of success in our society, let’s strive to find fulfillment in everything we do and make a positive impact on the world. As MCC MP, Master Coach & Mentor Vijayalakshmi S says, “Success doesn’t require specific qualifications or experiences — you can define success on your own terms.”