In class today we were talking about success. I asked a student a very direct question: “What is success?” This stumped her for a minute before she went on to give her own, very clear, definition. I explained to her that when we do this it’s called a “working definition” and that it is often a more useful tool than a dictionary definition. Using her working definition of success we went on the discuss our personal successes (and failures) and why we had achieved success in certain areas and not in others.
This student explained that 2 of her life goals were to become proficient in English and Chinese. I asked her if she felt she had achieved these goals and she said though she felt quite successful in both languages, the markers of her success were very different. To explain this, she said that she was lucky to have been born in Japan and to have studied Chinese characters all her life so that when she started studying Chinese, that aspect of her life proved invaluable. However, she had yet to find a good Chinese converseation school and as such her reading and writing abilities are quite strong but her conversation ability is lagging. However, when it comes to English she said she was quite lucky to have found such a comfortable and professional yet casual English school and so she felt her English conversation skills had taken off compared with her Chinese conversation ability.
This student has studied both Chinese and English for over 10 years and is quite fluent in both, although she claims to be more comfortable with English. She has done intense study for tests and has tried to go abroad to practice as much as possible. SHe has consistently worked hard over 10 years to develop her skills and eventually achieve her goals.
Now, back to her working definition of success. She claimed that success is the result of first having a goal or a dream, and then working hard to achieve it. Furthermore, she claims not only hard work but also luck and courage are key ingredients in being successful. No matter what your goals are, she said you need to be courageous, take the first step, and always work hard. I thought this was a fantastic working definition, which allowed us to easily discuss success both theoretically and specifically. Is Ichiro successful? Why? How did he become so? Try to answer those questions using this working definition, and you will see how easy it is. Pick anyone YOU consider successful, and try to explain why they are successful using this working definition of success!
Edward, SSE Ohtsu