Chosen Futures
  • World Cup Success

    July 13, 2010

    Whomever you favored in the World Cup, we can all agree that Spain won the 2010 championship.  We agree because there is a single set of rules followed by every national team and by every player who participates in FIFA competition.  A formal sport is defined by its rules, so participating in the sport involves accepting existing definitions of success which determine eligibility, scoring, and winning.  Part of what we humans enjoy about formal games and sports, from tag to chess to World Cup football, is that shared definitions of success allow us to focus on building the skills needed to perform excellently within the rules and to enjoy exercising or observing those skills in action.

    World Cup success is defined by FIFA, and FIFA agreements also cover how that definition is arrived at.  The process is elegantly circular, a closed system in which everyone agrees to the rules currently in force.  Other kinds of success are much less easily defined.  Most of our lives are spent in open systems which function under such names as “business” or “education” or “life.”  In these arenas, how we define success makes a big difference in the skills we develop, the people we associate with, and where we look for support, feedback, or applause.  In these open systems, there is no FIFA to set the rules, so it is important that we choose whose criteria for success we follow.  Those who are most successful choose their own criteria.

    Most of us start with borrowed definitions of success.  We borrow from our parents and teachers, from the media, from the culture at large, or from subcultures such as religion, nationality, ethnicity.  These borrowed definitions may make great training wheels, allowing us to try things out and to see how the definitions work for us personally.  But borrowed success definitions run the risk of creating artificially closed systems, which are usually inelegant, inefficient, and constricting.   They get in the way of true success.  Genuine success arises in the open systems which constitute human life, including the group lives of a business, a family, or a community as well as each individual life.  We discover our own definitions of success by experimenting, by improvising, by observing what works for us, and by acting to create more of what works for us.  If we are wise, we keep experimenting and improvising, so that our definitions continue to be effective and enjoyable as times change and as we change.  A particular national football team cannot choose its own definition of World Cup success; it has to abide by FIFA’s definition and develop excellence within that framework.  Individuals and businesses are far better off, become much more worthy of the term “successful,” by creating and choosing their own definitions of success, which focus on and develop their own innate excellence to accomplish goals they set for themselves.


    Add a comment

© 2020 Deborah Gavrin Frangquist, Chosen Futures