Before we dive into defining success can we acknowledge that most people are striving for it? -While there may be a small population of renunciate monks who try to transcend the duality of good or bad, success or failure, for most of us success is a common goal and assumed motivation.
Ask yourself, “do I want success?” The answer is likely yes.
So let’s agree that we want success. You’re reading this post because a part of you wants to be successful and there is a part of me that wants to be successful. f success is something so universal why is it not discussed more often? With that out of the way, we can begin and ask ourselves…
What is success?
Is Success the Same for Everyone?
Success for a young person may look different than someone old. Success as an American may look different than someone from India. While success for me is likely different than it is for you in my experience there are common themes in how people respond to this question.
Success Is Abundance
In other words… success means wealth.
The term “abundance” seems to be used more and more in popular culture and taking place of “wealth” or “being rich”. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgment that money doesn’t guarantee happiness.
The term “abundance” is not new. Jesus is quoted as saying
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.(John 10:10).
To be clear, in my own opinion wealth is an important part of abundance and therefore success. Can you be successful and not wealthy?
History is littered with successful artists and writers who died poor and whose art increased in value after their death. I wonder if you asked them…”are you successful?” how would they respond? How would their spouses respond?
Success Is Freedom
There are many wealthy people who one day wake up and no longer want to work for an employer.
I had a colleague who was offered the top job in a major insurance company to run the HR department and he turned it down. After spending decades in a corporate career he wanted out. For him, he felt enslaved by the corporate agenda. If his job needed him to travel across the world, he didn’t have a choice. In such a career one has to sacrifice time with family.
Success meant that he had control (or freedom) over where, when and with whom he would work.
Success is Connection
I know of a very successful entrepreneur who founded many successful businesses. After that, his dad died and his world turned upside down. All of a sudden his values changed and his desire for wealth or in his words..
“chasing money no longer seemed interesting” .
Consequently, he sold his business and began a journey of self-development.
To summarize, this entrepreneur desired to connect to his Self. Other more typical examples of connection are people working long hours and missing a connection with their family, or missing their connection with their friends or community.
Human beings are hard-wired for connection. Without it, success can not be found.
Success is Fulfillment
Above all, you can not be successful unless you are living with a sense of purpose.
Have you ever hated job?
For example, the job may have paid well, you may have liked the team, and the boss but if the job doesn’t align with your talents and interests or values then you are likely to be very disengaged. Finding one’s passion and purpose is an important part of success.
To summarize, it is important to remind ourselves that success is not a destination. No one ever is truely reach success and then stopped.
Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that success is a state of being, a process. How can you measure your success? To answer these questions simply ask how would you rate your level of abundance, freedom, connection, and fulfillment?
While the expectation of abundance or your desire for freedom may be different than mine it is these factors that ultimately determine the satisfaction of our success.