Perusing through my FaceBook feed this morning, I came upon several posts that inspire the idea of success. The premiss of each message throughout is that “if this person can achieve (blank), then you should be able to accomplish anything you put your mind to”. As a result, the second key message that may manifest in the back of your mind is that “I should want to strive for that magnitude of success because I will then be worthy”. If this message feels uncomfortable, then you have the inner critic dancing around in your head, and the ‘shoulds’ suddenly become very shitty.
The accomplishments listed in each video and quote are HUGE and worthy of awards and notoriety. They encompass star athletes, accomplished politicians, Oscar winning actors, significantly impactful humanitarians and individuals who overcame great physical adversity; all extremely deserving of the awards and accolades they receive.What we do know is that each of these bright stars were passionate about the challenges they chose and pursued them with great courage and determination; they chose this level of success because they were driven by what was important to them, a personal value or belief.
When we as a society think about success, we automatically move towards the thought of BIG because that is what we are fed through media and other external influences. But, what if you really don’t want to accomplish anything that society chooses to interpret as that significant? What if you don’t care about climbing a mountain, becoming a politician or the CEO of a corporation, winning an Oscar, or building a school in Africa? What if your definition of success is measured in a different and less noticeable way? Would you still be considered successful by others? And the more prevalent question, would you be fulfilling your definition of success?
This is where the inner critic, or what a recent client aptly named ‘the tormentor’, comes into play as it can play incessant tricks on you if you feed into the perception that you should achieve such societal levels of success if, in fact, you really don’t care to. It can actually create the exact opposite mindset of de-motivation as, yes I am going to say it, you may fear being perceived as unsuccessful because;
- You are not motivated to be a super star actor or high level athlete; you do not value being a multi-million dollar business icon or a mountain climber;
- Furthermore, I am going to throw it out there, you may not have the ability to physically, mentally or emotionally achieve such measures of success;
- And finally, if you did think about such accomplishments, you would have to give up other things that you value much more than this level of achievement.
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud all the great achievers in the world as they do empower me, themselves, and others, and that is a wonderful gift. My message is that you will not be successful unless you are very clear about what you want in order to feel successful, move towards that and, ultimately, become empowered by it. With all great accomplishments come significant tradeoffs, and they are different for everyone depending on their values. Having the clarity about what your values are allows you to to choose a path that is inline with them and your true purpose and passion. This may well be climbing Kilimanjaro or, it could be inspiring kindness in your children; both are equally successful in my eyes, but does it really matter what I think?
Being able to articulate what success means to you will provide you with a comfortable and authentic way of being and with that, a sense of peace. For me, living in line with my values is the true definition of success. What about you, do you dare to discover what success means to you and then take the steps to move towards it?
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