Published April 17th, 2013
You probably began developing your personal definition of “success” when you were just a child. It is a part of human nature to desire and want for things. That is further influenced by our individual framework of talents and skills, the perspective we develop based on our situations, and through foundational investment(s) from others. Life is a journey, and as long as we are breathing, we have opportunity to learn something new. I believe we can shape our primary desire and definition of success out of our unique experiences throughout that journey, and that our innate desire for approval and acceptance – particularly from those whose opinions or “status” we admire – can be put in a proper perspective. The simple truth is that, for many (maybe most), we don’t intentionally define “success” for ourselves. Too often, the root of our driven success doesn’t get past the basic idea that some acknowledgment or affirmation from a particular person(s), group, industry, order, or segment of the world will present proof that we are “valuable, good or important.”
So, what’s wrong with that? Well, that could be a whole other post – for now, let’s summarize it in this statement: Defining success, as it pertains to any individual’s life contribution, fulfillment of purpose, or unique reason for existence – is far too precious to be measured by anything so one-dimensional, external, or surface as popular opinion or someone else’s declaration of how your life equates to successful fruition.
I would propose that those “nice old ladies” who used to tell you that you were special and to “just be yourself” when you were a kid – were speaking perfect truth to you. We don’t want to believe it because of our standard of measurement. The truth is – you are special! It takes a lifetime of WORK to be like everyone else and it never quite “fits.” You are uniquely designed and gifted – and while we have similarities as a race (of course) we have intricately wonderful treasures inside us that make us who we are. Why are we working so hard to be the same as everyone? Our default is comparison to others for measurement.
How do we change this knee-jerk, predefined notion about what gives us that pass/fail or grade “A” stamp of approval? First, you become aware of it! Spend a bit of time focusing on and writing out what you would really define as success for you. Be brave and go beyond the automatic “default” that your subconscious shapes for you. As you are exploring and defining what you really believe would be a “successful” life for you – you may be reshaping a lot more than you think.