Studying in one of the most international business schools where more than 100 nationalities coexist, Hult serves as a mini global village where students come to hone their business skills to become ‘successful’ in their future careers. Whether it is your family business, your dream job or your crazy business idea, all of us carry an image of ‘success’ in our minds, making it ambiguous in nature. However, do we really understand the word ‘success’? Do we know what do we want in our lives to be happy and contented, or in other words, ‘successful’?

I came to Hult in 2016 with a goal (as I wrote in my personal statement) to ‘seek width in my perception and depth in my values.’ After taking the course ‘Future Societies’ in Fall 2018, I can say I am closer to my goal. The course challenged me to develop my consciousness into a more ‘sustainable’ and informed one. I studied what ‘success’ means in today’s world and how it is measured within businesses and nations. I realised both businesses and nations share a common element for measuring success – money.

Milton Friedman in 1970, developed a concept of ‘success’ for businesses. The purpose of businesses, according to the concept, is to maximise profits for the shareholders. This concept being almost half a century old still exists today and is the way we measure ‘success’. Companies are called ‘successful’ if they are highly profitable and can sustain monetary benefits over time. Success for countries, on the other hand, is measured by the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), which is the total monetary value of all goods and services produced in a period of time. Again, this measurement (used by all countries) uses ‘money’ as an element to measure success and economic growth. I had a moment of epiphany when I saw the following quote in the class:

“What we measure affects what we do; and if our measurements are flawed, decisions may be distorted.”

This quote made me question why businesses are successful if they make money? Why do countries use GDP to measure success? Is this the ‘best’ approach? I believe that our articulation of success has been influenced by how businesses and countries measure success. Success for us has become being at the top, whether it is the ‘Forbes List’ or having high social status. With success being ambiguous, it has been ‘monetized’ by our society. I would say that our current measurement of success is not sustainable. It is rather broken!

After taking Future Societies, I realised what success truly means. The course redefined the word success for me. ‘Success’, in my world, means reaching a stage of spiritual enlightenment and well-being that is well away from the materialistic world. ‘Success’ is about sustainability. In other words, fulfilling one’s actual needs (not greed) while keeping in mind the needs of the future. Success is being considerate about one’s actions. Success is also about us becoming better individuals and leaving a mark on the world through our good deeds. Finally, success is about metacognition, in other words, being aware and understanding one’s thinking process. So, the next time you self-introspect, ask yourself:

Do I really need to be at the top to be successful?

Does success really equate to fame and monetary wealth?

Am I meant to be entangled into the social belief of ‘success’? Or am I brave enough to break the norms and think about MY ways and MY measurement of success?

All of the above questions will allow you to take a step back & look at the bigger picture.

With Hult aiming to be the most relevant business school in the world, I ask the reader of this article to question the meaning of ‘relevance’. Does it mean you being a relevant employee with a relevant job in the future? Does it mean you having a relevant business model that is sustainable? Or does it mean you being the king of the kill no matter what?

I see a bright future for our world. With numerous business leaders formulating the B team and initiating ‘Plan B’ to redefine success (away from profit), countries like Bhutan have replaced GDP with GNH (Gross National Happiness) and set an example for better ways to measure success. I see the world transcending towards a better measure of success and understanding our ultimate goal as humans. Down the road, if you ask yourself “Is this what I want in life? Would this contribute to my success?” I would pat you on the back, for you have taken a step towards understanding true ‘success’!

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