I was working with a client the other day when she mentioned that she had always been told she was going to do something very special in life. This burden of success weighed heavily on her heart throughout her life. What was the one special thing she was destined to do? Is she letting everyone down? Is she supposed to be president or CEO of a massive company in order to fulfill her destiny? Instead of this being a motivator, this became a massive albatross around her neck. She was constantly feeling that whatever she accomplished was just not enough.
This leads me to think about how you define success. Everyone seems to be able to tell others what success really is. You’ve read all the promises out there. “Learn these 5 business strategies and achieve success” or “take this course and learn the secrets to becoming a millionaire”. Do you achieve success when you become president of the United States? Is it when you have a bulging bank account, or is it when you own 5 houses all over the world?
My dad was not a rich man. I didn’t grow up in a big house with a lot of material possessions. My dad sold cars and he absolutely loved his job and was quite good at what he did. I believe he was a natural born salesman. That’s not to say he didn’t have plenty of bad sales months with the good months. Wherever we would go, people would be excited to see him and give him a big hello. You see, I didn’t know anyone that didn’t think he was a nice guy. He rarely if ever yelled at us or became angry and he was consistently in a good mood.
Although my dad didn’t appear to be an overly successful man by many standards, he actually believed otherwise. He felt extremely lucky to have my mom and there was always laughter in the house. He was so proud that he had three kids that were college graduates, and he had been able to pay for their college educations on his own. He was proud that his house was paid off and he rarely missed a day of work. Everyday that he lived, he felt that he was a very lucky, successful man.
Becoming a CEO of a company when it’s not your passion or goal is not success. Being president of the United States when you don’t have the skills to do the job well is not success. Success is being true to who you are and using your strengths daily in your life. Success is challenging yourself to learn and grow physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially throughout your life. Success is not being afraid to be true to who you are at the core and not buying into what other people dream for you. You need to dream for YOU.
It’s impossible to evaluate other’s success because there is no universal measure of success. Many times this idea is contrary to what our culture teaches us. But the truth is we can only gauge how we are fairing in life by our own measuring stick. Not our mother’s, not our father’s or sibling’s, but what we feel in our heart. Only you know what success looks like. Success is in the eye of the beholder.