: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
: the correct or desired result of an attempt
This is Webster’s simple definition of success. No wonder I feel so unsuccessful. Textbook success looks like achieving huge fortunes or wealth, high levels of respect, great fame, and getting the desired results. Well, I am not achieving wealth or fame – well, at least not at the pace I’d like – and, while I am achieving respect of my clients and peers, it’s not something that I am usually aware of. Do I get the correct or desired results of my attempts? To answer that question, I have to explore what result is correct or desired. Webster’s definition, left me with questions rather than answers.
For instance, do I agree with Webster’s definition?
Last week, this thought came to me, “just what is the definition of success for me today?” The question came into my mind, and then it left just as soon as it arrived. My week was fraught with worry, fear, doubt and sadness. Lots of “why” questions crept into my consciousness. Why can’t things fall together? Why can’t I seem to attract clients at the pace I feel is acceptable? Why aren’t more people hiring me? Why am I working so hard to pursue a career in a niche that seemingly so few people seem interested in? It was a tough week. And in the end, I made a call to my coach to explore what success means for me. Here’s what I came up with. Maybe you can identify.
I reviewed my life vision statement to examine how aligned my life is with my values. My vision is:
…a world where all people enjoy healthy relationships based on trust and open communication. A world that values continuous personal development, creativity, and a strong spiritual connection while recognizing that prosperity and inner harmony result from helping others reach their full potential.
Healthy relationships based on trust and open communications: as I look at my relationships, today, they are very healthy. I find myself among people who are trustworthy and who communicate openly. The relationships in my life that were unhealthy have, for the most part fallen off, and the ones that remain grow stronger with time.
Continuous personal development: because of the work that I do as a coach and the process of recovery from alcoholism I practice, I am naturally in a continuous state of personal development. Each day brings with it many learning experiences ever deepening my awareness of who I am and how I can become a better version of myself.
Helping others reach their full potential: again, because of my work as a coach and the service work I do in my recovery program, I naturally fall into sync with this core value. It’s a “do” value, and I tend to be really good at manifesting those values. If anything, I need to be on the lookout for being too helpful, for doing too much.
Creativity: my music is the obvious expression of my creativity. I am ever grateful for my God-given talent and thankful that I have the opportunity to express this gift as a back-up singer, as a member of an acoustic trio and as a cantor at my church.
Strong spiritual connection: the last decade has been one of transition and the challenges that have emerged caused me to strengthen my reliance on a power greater than myself. I am devoted to daily practices that keep me connected to God and pray continuously for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.
At this point in the examination, it would appear my life is in agreement with my values, right?
Then I looked at the final piece of my life vision.
Prosperity & inner harmony: it’s interesting that these two ideals even appear within the same phrase in my vision statement, as they represent opposing concepts in my current way of thinking. Historically speaking, I have defined prosperity as economic wealth or affluence, and I’ve defined inner harmony as peace or a sense of serenity. In my experience, they have been mutually exclusive terms. When I experienced the highest levels of prosperity (economic wealth), I lacked inner harmony (serenity); and today, I am experiencing the highest level of inner harmony I’ve ever known, yet I lack prosperity. Or do I?
So once again, I refer to Webster’s.
: the condition of being successful or thriving; especially: economic well-being
Based upon this definition, that prosperity is the condition of being successful or thriving, I’m certainly thriving. Each day, I grow more and more. Each day, I encounter new challenges and meet new people who bring me to deeper levels of understanding and greater peace which continues to build my coaching capability.
But, am I successful? (déjà vu?)
That depends on how I define success. Webster’s, as mentioned earlier, defines success as achieving wealth, respect, or fame, or getting the desired result of an attempt. Is achieving wealth or fame really important to me? Part of me will always believe it is on some level; it’s an old pattern of thinking. Back in the day, when I was making a lot of money, my financial status helped me feel a part of the influential “in” crowd and made me feel comfortable in my own skin. The stuff money bought supported the image I had “become addicted to” as one author so eloquently wrote.
Over the last decade, I became more self-aware and the answer to “what’s important?” shifted. I realize today that getting the desired result of an attempt is the critical part of the definition. What result? Am I living my life in congruence with my vision?
Today, the answer is definitely “yes!” My life is definitely an expression of my core values.
Is there room to grow in the area of wealth and economic well-being? Of course! I’ll always want to achieve more. But, as I continue to live true to my values, helping others reach their full potential by coaching executives around these very same issues, I will be reminded that success is a matter of what’s important.
And figuring out what’s important? That is a process best experienced with the support of a coach.