My last blog post captured a lot of hearts and also prompted a lot of comments that motivated today’s topic. The notion of “success” is near and dear to my heart because for the first 2 decades of my adult life I was overly fixated on achieving my own definition of success – getting ahead, saving for retirement, having more “stuff.” I think you get the picture and some of you may suffer from the same struggle. These aspirations became my idols and were all consuming, which likely explains the excessive time I spent working and travelling that my family had to endure for that season of life.
The problem, which is eloquently explained in an article I tripped across last week, is that we tend to mis-define the concept of “success”. Try this thought exercise for a minute (before you read any further!): what is your personal definition of success?
Here’s how blogger Brad Stulberg describes the journey most of us wrestle with: (Article: Redefining Success )
Everyone wants to be successful. But few people take the time and energy to define the success they want. As a result, they spend most, if not all, of their lives chasing what society superimposes on them as success. Examples include a bigger house; a faster car; a more prestigious position; greater relevance on the internet. Yet, even if someone finally attains these so-called successes, they are often left wanting.
Sound familiar? Our culture fosters this mentality. Social media plays a role. Heck, our natural and innate tendency to compare ourselves to others may be the biggest contributor of all.
Which begs the question, “What’s the right way to look at success?”
Once again, Stulberg has a view that is grounding and helpful:
According to decades of psychological research, a successful life is one in which your basic needs for food, shelter, health care, and income are met and in which you have a sense of autonomy, mastery, and belonging.
What about you? Have you even paused long enough to wrestle with your own definition of success? What does it include?
If you haven’t done so, it becomes infinitely harder for us to be discerning about decisions related to our careers, families, and even financial decisions. I witnessed, first-hand, a great example this past week. I was coaching an accomplished client of mine and he explained that his key aspiration is to move to the next-higher level of management in his organization. Which sounded perfectly reasonable and logical…
So, I asked the Simon Sinek question, “Why?” “Why do you want to move up in the organization?” And then came an awkward pause on the other end of the phone…because he hadn’t really stopped to consider the “why” of his aspiration.
I hope you’ll allow me to offer a couple of brief suggestions: 1) Read Stulberg’s short blog post (the link is above), and 2) spend a few minutes this week contemplating what constitutes success for you. It can re-orient your perspective – and may entirely change your desires and aspirations!
I always welcome your comments and reflections…