*For the next few months I’ll be featuring slightly modified chapters from my upcoming book “Punch Failure in The Face” as blog posts: Hope you enjoy these ideas, and they whet your appetite for more!
“If a man wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and in
between does exactly what he wanted, that’s success” ~ Bob Dylan
Yesterday I emceed a terrific little business conference called SOHO Victoria where 240 attendees spent the day surrounding themselves with fellow entrepreneurs, businesspeople and fledgling tycoons, and you know what? All of these folks were in search of the same one thing:
It’s true; but the thing that many folks believe (including I’m sure, a gaggle of these eager go-getters) is that success looks dramatically different to everyone.
No, seriously it does; and if this idea comes as a surprise to you I’m wondering if you’ve ever asked yourself what it looks like for you?
Seriously, what does this often misunderstood word truly mean to – for – YOU?
Perhaps success means living in a big house; or perhaps it means driving a fancy car chock full of bells and whistles like a GPS system and individually mounted video players to keep the kiddies in the back seat from killing each other on the trip to Grandmas. Yes? No?
Perhaps success means adhering to a strict vegan diet; or maybe it means having zero percent body fat to show for all your leafy consumption efforts. (If so, yuck! Just sayin’)
Maybe success means being cash poor, yet rich in friendships and love; or maybe it means having hundreds of thousands of dollars to fastidiously count, just like Scrooge McDuck.
It might mean owning a quiet little house in the country, or a small condo in the heart of a city, or having no fixed address at all so there’s freedom to travel the globe at a moment’s notice! Yee Haw!
For you success may be some of these things, all of these things, or none of them at all. And while the above statements suggest that everybody defines success differently, I have to say I disagree. I actually believe that success means the exact same thing to everybody.
By this I mean that for anyone to be truly successful they must feel happy and fulfilled; anything less is a life not fully experienced or lived, and would be defined as a life of unhappiness; a life of lack; a crappy life; a life that is not successful.
So by this logic, the definition of “what success is” for everyone from The Queen to a single mother to your next-door neighbor is for them to feel happy and fulfilled. If you think about it, this definition makes perfect sense. It’s what comes next that makes it a bit tricky.
What makes people different and unique from one another are the things that help each of us experience those feelings of happiness and fulfillment; the things that we deem success.
For example, travelling the globe, enjoying meals with good friends, spending time with people I care about are all things that make me feel happy and fulfilled, so this is where I put my time and energy. And when I do these things, I feel successful.
On the flipside, owning a big home or driving a fancy video screen laden new car aren’t important to me – actually they’d make me feel trapped and miserable – they provide the exact opposite feelings from success. But that’s just me; you might derive a ton of happiness and fulfillment from them.
My point is that while being successful is about feeling happy and fulfilled, it’s also about understanding that the things and activities and experiences that create these feelings are different for each of us.
As individuals the trick is to find what makes us feel these things, and then do as many of them as possible. We can start by asking ourselves the following questions:
• What are the things that make me deliriously happy and feel incredibly fulfilled?
• What needs to happen to bring way more of them into my life?
Not sure how to answer? No problem! Let’s narrow down our thoughts and get a good, solid working definition of what success means to us by answering one single question:
• If you had unlimited time, money and resources, how would you spend them?
Digging deep to answer these kinds of questions helps quickly identify the things, activities and experiences that excite us; these being the same things that can (and will) bring happiness and joy into our lives.
Super Bonus: These are also usually the things that align most with our purpose.
Asking succinct, direct questions helps us discover what brings us happiness and fulfillment; and by our definition of what success is – feelings of happiness and fulfillment – they point us on the path towards our version of a successful life, whatever that looks like for us.
This is why all SOHO attendees were given the opportunity to ask business people what their definitions of success were; and much to their surprise, most answers had less to do with money and growth, and more to do with personal happiness and fulfillment… After what you’ve read here, does this really surprise you? I didn’t think so.
And so, now that you know how to find out what your own true definition of success is, what are you going to do about it?
I have an idea; why not figure out what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, then get out and do lots of it.
Oh, and for extra-success, add a bottle of merlot. Trust me on this one.