Friday, July 19, 2013

Success: My Really Un-Politically Correct Definition

We hear so much talk about “success” these days – it seems like every info-preneur and televangelist and motivational speaker is urging us on to greater success.

Everybody wants to be successful....don’t we?

But what IS success, exactly?

Is it making enough money to retire at 40? Is it becoming the CEO of your company? Or having a certain amount of money in the bank?

Who decides what the benchmark is?

To be honest, I find all the above definitions of “success” to be rather shallow. I cannot summon up any sense of excitement when I think about these things.

They are someone else’s idea of success, not mine.

Here’s the thing. Success means different things for different people. If you want the big house on the hill and your pockets full of money, by all means, go for your life! But why strive for it just because the world says you should want it?

I think we should set our compass by what matters the most to us.

By the world’s standards, I would not be considered “successful”. I don’t own a big house (in fact, at this very moment, I don’t own a house, period!). I don’t have a ton of money (I have approximately $200 cash to my name). I don’t drive a fancy car (actually, these days, I mostly ride a bike). I don’t even have a university degree! (Gasp!)

Fortunately, I don’t really care what the world thinks of me. I care what I think of me...

I jump out of the bed every morning with excitement. I love my life! I’m learning and growing every day. I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives.

(I certainly never had this much energy or enthusiasm for life, back when I had the house, the job, the car, and studying to be an accountant - all the things that society says I should want...)

Now I am living my life’s purpose.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m living my success.

My success is not dependent upon any external object or circumstance. It is dependent entirely upon me. Upon my attitude, my choices, my ability to live true to my values, to be genuine. Therefore, whether I fail or succeed is entirely in my own hands. It does not rely upon factors that I have no control over, like the stock-market, or the economy, or an employer.

I can see no sense in basing my success upon things which I cannot control!

Therefore, my only definition of success is this: To live fully – gratefully, truthfully, purposefully.

This means living by what matters the most to me.

If I spent my life climbing the corporate ladder in finance, and eventually made it to the “top” (wherever that is), and hailed as a success by my peers and colleagues....but felt empty inside because I knew deep down that my heart lay elsewhere...what would be the point of it all? The supposed “success” would mean nothing! If I looked back at my life, I wouldn’t feel successful, I’d just regret all the years I spent not doing the thing I loved!!!

I cannot see how “Success” can really be successful, if it doesn’t also involve a sense of fulfilment and purpose. Therefore, nobody else can measure our “success”, except ourselves.

Too often we get caught up in the trivialities of life, the urgent but not important (in the scheme of things) tasks, “getting by”, we fail to notice that our outward life does not even slightly resemble our inner values!

I can say unequivocally that since my outer life has begun to align with my inner compass, incredible things have started to happen:

 - The most amazing people began to appear in my life - people with the approach/vision/knowledge that I needed, in order to grow to new understanding. (As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear)

- My energy levels and creativity have gone through the roof.

 - Other people began to sit up and take notice – a person who is so obviously enjoying their life is a rarity (sadly), in today’s world of striving and straining and always wanting more. They begin to ask questions, they begin to wonder if they too, could live in such a way. This is how we inspire and influence humanity for good – by living our message. Personally, I don’t believe the world needs more preachers or motivational speakers. It just needs more people who will live their message.

 - I have become much more confident. I no longer secretly feel inferior to others (probably because I am no longer trying to “measure up” to somebody else’s benchmarks). I believe that I have something great to offer others, to offer the world. I am unique, with unique experiences and insights, why WOULDN’T people want to talk to me?! I used to shy away or force myself to initiate conversations, now I love to strike up meaningful conversations, and delight in every new connection made.

 - It kind of goes without saying that I’m happier. This tends to equate with having more patience with my husband and children, a more philosophical approach to “setbacks” or challenges, seeing the humour in situations and having a good laugh...In general, I’m so much nicer to be around.

I have realised that success is not an achievement, a milestone or a destination.

Success is in the journey.

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