Critical Success Factors

In my Business Management class we are practicing the identification of critical success factors in various markets. It is a fun exercise, to see what defines success and also how that success can be achieved, but of course my introspective self begins to apply it all to my own life. My dreams have definitely matured, and as they become more realistic they have been forced to fit into the dominant hegemony of capitalism: the measurement of success becomes money and things.

Now, I don’t like to think of myself as an overly material person. Sure, I do like my “things.” I have a slight scarf addiction, and notebooks are something that I don’t think I could live without. I have a relatively nice computer (even though it  is starting to give up on me) and I have one of the latest tablets. In just 6 months the boy and I have acquired so much “stuff” that our move is going to be challenging no matter which destination and path we choose. I would love to stake claim as a minimalist, but I don’t think that I will ever be able to. Comfort and attachment permeate my being. However, I am still not sold on the capitalistic dream of owning the means of production and basing my success on my material wealth. Therefore I think that it is important to constantly re-evaluate my critical success factors and my definition of success.

An exploration into success using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

I do, honestly, believe that success is achieved in self-actualization. Specifically I believe that my success is measured by my ability to recognize and maintain my morality, to contribute creatively to a social network, to have and learn from adventures, to be loving and helpful to others, and to develop my spiritual nature. According to Maslow I need to satisfy all of these minor levels in order to achieve those successes.

  1. Physiological: These are things that are rather guaranteed in the modern world, and I am not overly concerned for them. One thing that I do not really get enough of is sleep. Also, it is important for me to not just ingest things, but to do so in a conscious, healthy manner, which adds a layer of complexity to what was once thought of as the most basic level of needs. Whereas once the need was provoked by a scarcity of food, it is now provoked by an overabundance of things that claim to be food but are ultimately not contributing to a positive life. That is why I want to have more control over my physiological needs, including my successful life involving having my own garden and actively producing my own food. 
  2. Safety: Here is where the control comes in. I have not had a lot of control in my life, and this is where I have often dwelt in the hierarchy. Not having an income, not having a domicile, not having permanent relationships. A big need in this level is family, which to me means those tight relationships that you can really depend on. I feel a great need to really redefine and cultivate a sense of family. I have family like I never believed possible in Nikola. However, the friendships that I have depended on until now are definitely struggling. I need that really close, communal feel in the same hemisphere as me, in the same country in me, and preferably in the same city as me. Secondly, I do not give a lot of importance to money, but I do give importance to property. My physical safety is measured (to me) in owning my own land, and developing that land in such a way to have minimal dependance on the “grid.” That means going with alternative energy sources and having an awesomely insulated house hat I can sustain with my family. 
  3. Love/belonging: Nikola satisfies a huge chunk of this category, but I also feel the need to develop other very intimate, strong bonds based on emotional intimacy. The distance thing is really starting to ache after three years, and I recognize that I have intimacy issues as far as building new relationships goes… especially in Bulgaria. I am going to have to get over that. So here I see a need to have family friends that I see often and share new experiences and an exchange of ideas with. 
  4. Esteem: I feel like my esteem is not hard to meet. There are so many ways for me to achieve a sense of worth and respect. Someday I will have the role of a mother (never thought that would be on my list), but also I want to be an active community leader/member advocating and researching youth rights and issues, providing educational programing and working in the outdoor field. This is not connected to payment for me, and I would be perfectly happy to do this without monetary compensation provided I already have that house and garden thing met 🙂
Okay, so what does all that mean? What does my life look like if I am to consider myself successful: 
  • My family owns our own property, on which we manage a large garden and have a self-sustaining home utilizing alternative energy methods such as solar or wind energy. 
  • I am a wife and mother, preferably with two kids. 
  • I have a very close knit group of friends within my physical community with whom I interact positively with on a regular basis. 
  • I have an extended community both physically close and further away that I interact with less often but still in a meaningful way. 
  • I contribute in the field of youth development and community building. 
  • I contribute creatively, and maintain creative dialogues (through dance, writing, painting, film, photography etc) with people from within my community. 
That’s it. That is success for me. Many, many ways to achieve it. I wonder if I ever will. 

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