How would you define career success?Featured
Q: What's your personal definition of career success?I think the question of ‘career success’ is an interesting one, in that it gives me the opportunity to reflect on much more than just the phrase itself. If I were to think of my career as my job, then my definition of career success when I left university was pretty straightforward. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, so I very quickly got a job in the field, and started working my way up the ranks. One of the benefits of engineering is that the career path, like the discipline itself, is fairly structured. You work on basic, simple roles to begin with, and as you gain experience in your chosen field (mine was oil and gas), you slowly take on more responsibility, you increase the skillset you have and you move onwards and upwards in a fairly linear fashion. Makes sense, right?That was the plan, anyway. I did what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself, for four years. I gained the adequate experience and more, pushed myself to get accredited faster than my colleagues and worked with mentors to set out my three, five, ten, 20 year plan. It all seemed pretty in hand. ‘Career’ or ‘job’ success at the time was easy: you follow the steps to achieving the highest your potential will take you in the company or industry.But along the way, I got… let’s say, waylaid. I’d always been involved in social justice work, having started the non-for-profit Youth Without Borders when I was 16 and serving on numerous board all through university and beyond. I’d also begun writing - casually, of course - never taking it quite as seriously as engineering. Four years into my engineering career however, I published my first book and ended up taking a year off to tour, nationally and internationally, then taking on some broadcasting work, then writing another book, then moving countries… So here I now find myself, three years later, working on my third book, two TV series and a documentary under my belt, bylines including the Guardian, BBC, Teen Vogue and more… but no real idea of what my ‘career’ is, or what success in said career would look like. I find myself in the privileged position of doing work that I am interested in, I suppose, so that’s success. I can pay the rent, and have enough to eat out (Alhamdulilah) so that’s success too. I am also constantly learning, and that is something I am deeply grateful for. So, is that success? Perhaps what you’re asking is, ‘how do I know I’ve made it?’ To that, I would cheekily reply: when I’m on my deathbed and thinking, oh yeh, it’s time. I hope I’ve done enough. Until then, I guess success for me - not only just in my career, but overall - a life where I had a net positive impact on the people and community around me, where I acted with integrity and chose to live in joy and gratitude. Hey, I’m a religious gal - really, success is getting into heaven! ;)My name is Yassmin Abdel-Magied and I have the blessing of associating with multiple identities. First and foremost, I am a Muslim, Alhamdulillah. I was born in Sudan and raised in Australia. I am the Founder and Chair of Youth Without Borders, and Mumtaza. I am also a mechanical engineer, with a passion for adventures, football, boxing, and motorsport. Working with community, hours spent in endless philosophy discussions (sprinkled with terrible puns) and debates on international relations are also pastimes that keep me happily occupied.You can learn more about me on my website.
Musha Allah Yassmin you have achieved the very definition of career success as a young, Sudanese woman I aspire to reach your level of success. You not only inspire me but so many others.
This is such a timely conversation, Yassmin, especially since women are at point where they are realizing they don't have to put up with traditional (male) environments and can be their own bosses. As long as you are doing the things that give you intrinsic satisfaction, and you feel energized (and you can create a living) YOU ARE A SUCCESS!
For me, the notion of professional success and personal success are interchangeable: living and loving with purpose, humility and a deep, abiding curiosity about the world. Success is not about getting, but giving. It's not defined by what you have externally, but how you feel internally. I personally am learning that 'true' success is peace; the notion that I am enough as I am, and that I am allowed to be me. The freedom that comes only from failure. The acceptance that comes only from hurt and disappointment. The compassion that comes only from forgiveness. The love that persists despite and because of this. The desire to, above all else, make a meaningful difference - a metric defined by the quality rather than the quantity of my connection/s with the world around me. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Yassmin. You do you. You're doing an incredible job <3
As noted by yourself and others, defining success is so personal. You are super accomplished. For most that equals successful. If it doesn’t feel that way to you, I wonder if the real question is “What does success look like/feel like to you?” It’s a similar, yet different question. For me, success looks like I’ve put my talents to use in ways that have helped myself and exponentially helped others (“Do good and do well”), especially those coming behind me. It feels like I’ve been honorable overall, even when it has been difficult; I’ve apologized quickly when I needed to; Ive learned constantly; and most importantly I’ve regularly asked myself, “Who do you get to be in this lifetime to be deserving of the love you’ve been shown?” and then Ive chosen to be that person. If no one else ever knows, if it looks like I’ve jumped around a lot and if it never seems that I’ve accomplished anything to the outside world, I will have been successful.
I've often pondered this and the linearity of success. I truly believe those words that you choose to live in joy, gratitude, acted on integrity and made a difference somewhere. Success is very similar to me where I have taken the bad experiences in my life and turned around and helped others in the same position get out of it. To lead by example, to give hope and a hand to those in need. I love this post!