"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." -- Winston S. Churchill
Society pays a significant role in human development.
Much of what we learn comes from our communities, for better or for worse. When talking about "success," the definition society teaches us is becoming more and more disconnected from true success. People sacrifice their ethics, personal values, and the idea of happiness to pursue success, yet few are closer to it. We follow like sheep along a pathway of ever-increasing demands, sacrifices, and stress. Is there any wonder that the self-help industry is booming?
In the article The 7 Biggest Lies I Had to Unlearn to Be Successful, the author highlights how brainwashed we are concerning the myths of success. One of these well-known myths is the correlation between doing well at school and success in life. As important as school is, there are many pathways to success.
For the sake of our well-being, it's becoming increasingly evident that we must reconsider society's current definition of success. We are all experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness due to the overwhelming pressure of becoming "successful."
How might we find a healthier version of success?
"For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let them be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Taking this definition of success to heart would mean less about buckling to the ever-increasing demands on our life and more to do with our courage and willingness to step into possible failure (another word for learning). It could be about our social skills, willingness to adapt, work ethics, and learning new things. It could be about our desire to get back up and persevere despite the challenges we may face.
This type of thinking can radically change how we engage with the world. Success would be more about taking risk, learning from failures, and making the required changes to make this world a better place.
"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values." -- REV DR. Martin Luther King Jr.
A speech from long ago that is as true today as it was when it was delivered. This quote emphasizes the commitment needed to learn about the value of real success.
The word "undergo" means "an arduous task." That means it's not going to be easy. It will take hard work and commitment if we are going to realize this "radical revolution of values." I don't know about you, but I think it's worth it, and it must happen for our future growth as a country and a species. Social, emotional, mental, and physical wellness must be at the center of our workforce, homes, and education system if we want to create the leaders the future this world so desperately needs.
What can we do to start this "radical revolution" in your life?
As Steven Covey wrote, start with the end in mind. Do you know who you want to be in 5-years? Notice, I didn't ask what you want to do. The "what do you want to do?" builds upon the broken system of success. By focusing on "who you want to become," we shift to a values question. If I were to bump into you at a coffee shop, who would I meet?
To discover who you want to become, start with values. Look around you, who do you admire? What values do they live by? What non-negotiable behaviors are evident in the lives? Write a list of values you admire in others and “feel” what fits for you. Now start implementing these values into your life, develop them, do everything in your power to stick with these values.
Now that you know who you want to become, are your current actions and life choices aligned with your future self? If they are not, then what can you do to change what you are doing? If what you are doing aligns with who you want to become, keep at it, relentlessly chase that state of being.
Don't make this process too complex. Your current self will fight against anything you make too challenging. If you want to create some white space in your daily life to reflect and get creative, start with just 5-minutes. This small amount of time will be so much easier for the brain to reconcile.
Good luck in becoming your best self. Happy hunting as you search for your definition of success.