Last week I went to a marketing seminar. The session was led by really enthusiastic sales and marketing experts with high impact careers.
But rather than feel really boosted by the hyped-up energy in the room, I came away thinking that we are always fed the same vision of success – the vision that we should all aspire to building a global empire — a mega-brand, being self-made multi-millionaires and being at the top of our chosen game — no matter the personal cost to our health and our relationships. 'More is better' grips our psyche.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-capitalism. I just think we need to broaden our definition of success. A broader definition that allows us to give ourselves credit for what we have achieved, to show gratitude for our lives as they are right now and feel successful against more meaningful measures.
A narrow capitalistic or competitive version of success makes people feel like they will never ‘arrive’ and are never good enough and will never experience ultimate success. It’s the feeling you get when you set out to climb a mountain. And each time, you think you’re about to reach the top, you discover there’s another slope to climb and the top is in the distance just out of reach. So you keep on climbing, often without stopping to drink in the view, and often without giving yourself a pat on the back for coming so far.
Yet I’m sure people who have made it to the so-called ‘top’, are usually very clear about what is important to them – and it is usually health, well-being and having good relationships with the people they care about.
So that day after the seminar, I sat down and wrote the 10 things that are most important to me — basically what my personal version of success looks like. I wrote:
- Spending rewarding time with my family
- Growing happy, confidant kids
- Being healthy and experiencing real work-life balance
- Being stimulated mentally
- Being respected for what I do
- Being financially independent
- Having genuine friends
- Exploring new cultures and places
- Being valued in my communities
- Being brave when it counts.
What struck me is it had nothing to do with working long hours or making millions. And it had everything to do with meaningful and genuine connections with myself, my family and my wider communities. And what also struck me is that I enjoy most of these things most days in my life already. So in that moment I realized, I can grant myself the pleasure of feeling successful in my eyes – not waiting for other people’s approval or aspiring to someone else's version of success.
So now I invite you to do the same: write down the 10 things that are truly most important to you. You may come to see that you are already successful and living your dream life — without taking another step up 'that' mountain. I'd love to hear what your version of success looks like, if you feel like sharing.
Here’s to real success.