By STRETCH+BLOOM | On August 12, 2016 In Life purpose and career, Tip
Before jumping onto the ‘success’ bandwagon and becoming another casualty of this trainwreck, you may want to revisit your definition of success.
Here are some ideas for your consideration:
SOME BIG MISCONCEPTIONS
In my opinion some big misconceptions stem from our modern definition of success and lead to the mess we are in.
Most of us have been conditioned to evaluate success by a list of external symbols.
In a nutshell: bling, cash and pads.
However I would venture that these are not true signs of success.
Success should not be evaluated through superficial means.
A big mansion, a private plane, an army of lackey are not signs of success.
They are signs of financial affluence.
There’s a difference.
Let me clarify my point:
Success is the result of a personal journey not, it is not an absolute state.
If you come from poverty, having loads of cash could be a symbol of your success.
If you come from extreme wealth however, a yacht may not mean anything for you.
It could even be a sign of failure for you depending on where you are coming from.
Think about it: if you’re used to wearing handmade custom shoes, having to wear even the fanciest pair of red bottoms could probably feel like a huge downgrade.
Same with the wrong size of yacht!
Matter of perspective!
Actually, with the passing of time even if you came from poverty and you rose to extreme wealth, these symbols would probably lose their meaning to you.
You probably were excited to get your first car, your apartment, your first job. As you grow older these things just become part of your life, and they no longer excite you.
As each new level becomes the norm, the feeling of being successful fades.
FINANCIAL AFFLUENCE IS NOT SUCCESS
Just as much as success cannot be determined by the ownership of certain status symbols, it is also not tied to financial abundance.
Many people can come into financial abundance in ways that are not connected to being successful.
If one day you were to receive a letter telling you that a faraway relative has passed away and leaves you her fortune, you would not be successful.
You would become wealthy.
Same goes for a sudden lottery winner or someone who gets awarded a large sum of money as a result of a court case.
These people have not accomplished anything, their wealth was handed to them.
That is not success!
SUCCESS IS TIED TO OVERCOMING SOMETHING
The problem with the idea of being successful is that our commonly accepted definion is lacking.
Without a challenge to overcome, you cannot be successful!
Without a challenge to overcome, same thing.
This is why someone who receives their wealth on a silver platter is not successful.
No challenge = no accomplishment = no success, no matter how wealthy you are!
Paradoxically, it means that someone with a very modest level of financial abundance who has taken massive steps to improve their financial situation can actually be very successful.
And again being successful isn’t limited to financial matters.
You can be successful at getting to bed earlier.
Successful at working out more.
Successful at losing weight.
It has nothing to do with money.
It has to do with overcoming a challenge.
SUCCESS IS TIED TO IMPROVEMENTS AND BENEFITS
The by-product of solving a challenge is the reaping of benefits.
No one aims to lose weight for the sake of losing weight.
People decide to lose weight to look better in their clothes, to have more stamina, to protect their health or a myriad of other reasons.
Someone may decide to go to bed earlier, to have more quiet time in the morning, to be more rested during the day or to sleep more.
In any case, at the beginning of this success journey was a concern that needed to be alleviated, an improvement to be made, a benefit to be reaped.
This means that if as you progress towards success you increasingly feel worse, then, no matter how great things may look for you on the outside, you are not successful.
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SUCCESS NEEDS METRICS
In a way you could say that success is the gap between a starting point and an ending point. The bigger the gap, the bigger the success.
This also means that if you do not know the starting point or the metrics being improved, you cannot judge if someone is successful.
This is why it is a huge trap to try to compare your success to someone else’s!
You’re not in their head, you don’t know what they were trying to accomplish, so you have no way of measuring their level of success.
A single teenage mom, foster child, high-school drop-out would probably be considered a huge success if she manages to find a decent job that allows her to move into a modest house and take care of her child.
An heiress who scatters all her fortune on parties and has to move in next door on the same street is a failure.
One bridged a huge gap and created a huge improvement of her conditions.
The other also closed a huge gap. However it lead to a massive worsening of her conditions.
Now interestingly, an heiress who decides to donate her wealth to transform the life of millions might become significantly less financially affluent in the process, and end up moving on the same block in this modest neighborhood and still be a huge success.
See, this success notion is a tricky thing!
SUCCESS NEEDS TO BE RENEWED
You’ve probably heard the expression: ‘don’t rest on your laurels.’
Well, it’s true. Success doesn’t like rest.
The moment you’ve achieve a new level of success, it becomes your new normal.
And normal means no challenge, no improvement, no gap to close.
And just like that, success has died!
For there to be success, there needs to be a succession of new objectives being set.
SUCCESS SHOULD BE CONNECTED TO YOUR COMMUNITY
Finally, one aspect that is often forgotten when we talk about success is the impact our actions have on the world we live in.
Big car = ‘success’.
Big shopping sprees = ‘success’.
Big corporate job with fancy title = ‘success’.
No one ever seems to want take in consideration the repercussion of their choices.
A big car might make you look successful but it pollutes and make the air less breathable.
A shopping spree might make you feel good but the production of goods depletes planetary resources and also leads to the accumulation of garbage that we running out of space to dispose of.
And being the puppet for an ethically questionable corporation might gives you a fancy title and a big pay-check but you’re still part of a machine that destroys the lives of millions of people.
How do enjoy having sold your soul…?
I didn’t particularly enjoy my time in school, but one thing I did remember was the idea that we live in an ecosystem.
Maybe not tomorrow.
Maybe not next year.
Maybe not in the next ten years.
But your actions will bite you back, it’s a fact.
If your definition of success doesn’t add to the big picture, you’re failing.
You live on the same planet, you need the same air, the same water, the same resources as everyone else.
If your definition of success doesn’t add to the big picture, (unless your objective is to wake early or something similar of course) you’re hurting yourself.
Even if all your other metrics are on point!
A NEW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
At the end of the day what is all the ‘success’ in the world worth if you’re not happy?
If you’re not pursuing meaningful objectives?
If you’re not making a positive impact in the world?
While the world (or the dictionnaries) may not be ready to correct their definition of success, it doesn’t mean that you cannot correct yours, and define it in a way that actually empowers you.
Instead of letting this this modern definition of ‘success’ bully you into golden schakles and a catalog-perfect life of misery, you can create one that serves you.
Personnally, I believe in soulful success, success defined in such a way that it actually fuels the soul.
What’s your definition?