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How do you Measure Success?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

So last night was the final of The Great Pottery Throwdown and I’ve really enjoyed watching it this year. What with that and Go Hard or Go Home, my Sunday night viewing has been really motivational and inspiring these last few weeks.

It got me thinking about the reasons why people enter competitions and events in the first place, not just those on the TV, but generally. I’ve also been thinking a lot about why people don’t enter and balancing it with reasons why maybe they should.

My partner has a great saying, well it’s not his saying, but he uses it a lot and it’s ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. He applies it to a lot of things and often does well out of it because he, quite rightly, believes that people will always say no if they want to but if you don’t ask the question then you never know what might have been. It struck me that the same can also be applied to ourselves, how often are we brave enough to ask questions of ourselves and do we do it as often as we should?

I’ve considered why people don’t enter competitions and it could be for a number of reasons, fear of failure, lack of motivation, feeling that there’s no point and little to gain but it could also be as simple as presuming you won’t win so therefore simply not wasting effort. This last one I find interesting because let’s apply it to something like the London Marathon… I mean who truly believes they will win it when they enter it? Nobody, right? Yet each year thousands upon thousands apply to take part with a whole host of inspiring reasons behind their application.

I think it’s really important to ask questions of ourselves as often as we feel confident to do so. Why? Because it helps us grow. Let’s break it down into some examples…

Not Being in it to Win it

I don’t know if you watched the Pottery Throwdown this year but for me, Lois was the clear front runner right from the start and it was lovely to look at the beauty of her designs and see her creativity, but I enjoyed watching Jon’s progression much more as the weeks went on. Why? Because he was never a shining star but his growth and his journey was phenomenal. Quiet, understated, just got on with it, applying his engineering background to his designs and taking each week for what it was, making the best of it and hoping for a good tail wind. Then he finds himself in the final and with every right to be there. Now, I don’t know his reasons for applying but I don’t think for one minute that he applied because he knew he could win, I am guessing he thought, let’s test myself, be part of the process, go on a journey of discovery and have a great old time while I’m at it. And why the hell not? It’s not just about making up the numbers, sometimes you have to consider what you stand to gain by being there and just go for it.

In addition to that, what else did he do? Well he inspired me for a start (and therefore I am sure plenty of others along the way), he set himself up to make a living doing something that he loves and he proved something to himself.

And what of Go Hard or Go Home? I love that phrase… it can be applied to so many things in life and just epitomises the whole ethos behind this point. There is no shame in throwing yourself into something with no guarantees of winning, there are only huge gains. Competition is healthy but there can only be one winner and if that isn’t you at this particular moment in time, just take a look at what you have achieved along the way anyway. Sometimes it’s important to focus on your own journey rather than focussing on the prize. For me, winning something is the icing on the cake, but it’s beneath the surface where the real gains are.

If you’re mulling over some changes in your life, just ask yourself the questions what have I got to gain by doing this and what have I got to lose? If the answer to the first one is much and the answer to the second is nothing, then it’s a no brainer really isn’t it?

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