Friday, 27 July 2012

Making It and Defining Success

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

RO recently wrote about Greatness. Go read that blog post now, no really! The rest of this post is a built on the ideas of RO’s. OK, so if you’ve not read the RO’s post – here is my paraphrasing summary. “It’s not about trying, it’s about achieving success.” In my in-law’s family they have a concept of first winners, second winners, etc. and last winners. In my family, there are winners, losers and those who chose not to take part.

There’s a statement by the sages in Megila 6b which is:

"I toiled in torah and did not find (success)" - Don't believe him. "I did not toil and I found" - Don't believe him. "I toiled and found" - Believe him.)

In other words, you have to put in the effort to have a chance of success. No effort and still get success? There is no instant solution. Why do you think the dieting industry is so large (pardon the pun), if there was a quick fix there would be very little for the marketing and sales people to do.

“Defining Success”

So if success is really all that matters and it requires a lot of work, what is the definition of success? Is it getting initiated? Is it recognition of one’s peers? If so, are you in comparison to your peers “like the tail of a lion or the head of a fox”? I.e. are you leading the B-team or at the back of the A-team? Is it tangible results?


In project management success used to be defined as delivering a project (i.e. a service or product) within an agreed upon scope (requirements), schedule (end date) and budget (cost). That was known as the iron triangle of constraints. Whichever was fixed, the others could be adjusted. If all were fixed then that was a death-march project doomed to failure from the start. However, I’ve project managed a number of projects that delivered on time, budget and scope. Yet no one used the end product. Which from a business point of view meant that the product provided no value and hence no revenue.

So now the conversation about project success has shifted from the iron triangle of cost, scope, time to include value. In fact, it’s gone the other way and some projects that are massively over cost, time and don’t deliver all the scope promised can still be considered a success… as long as they are perceived to deliver value.

For example, someone who’s house is built late, cost more than estimated and does not have all the electricity working may still be delighted with their new home because it looks exactly how they imaged it would.


There are winners and losers. You have to put in effort in order to win. By not entering the race, you have no chance of success. Winning though is something that is not clearly defined. Another thing that is hard to measure - in particular in magical and spiritual development that does not involve grades – is progress.

Hence why I believe that project management has a useful skill-set to add to the repertoire of a magical and/or spiritual seeker. It’s a way of defining stages and shorter “sprints” of activity that can be used to measure progress. Also, it can be used to determine what you consider to be success.

On a personal note, having tried and failed several times in the past few years to read & translate Hebrew commentaries on Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), I discovered last week that I could now read and understand (some of) what Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and Rabbi Abraham Abulafia have written in their commentaries. It was a combination of Hebrew Immersion training and learning how to connect to the authors by understanding and practicing getting a maggid (spiritual guide) and ibbur (soul impregnation).

Do I consider myself having achieved Greatness? Far from it… hence my self-appointed title “Trainee Golem Builder”, emphasis on the Trainee part. Have I made some progress on the way? Some. Am I a winner? I’ll let you know when the lottery results come in.