I’ve been hearing the word “success” and reading a lot about it recently. Or maybe no more than usual, as it is used liberally in our world. But it’s been making a big blip on my personal radar for some reason and provoked me to consider what “success” really means.
The dictionary definition says that success is: 1) achievement of intention; 2) attainment of fame, wealth or power; 3) something that turns out well; 4) somebody successful
I’d like to unpack these definitions a bit to stir the pot of your perceptions of this interesting word.
I imagine you agree that, societally, the second definition is the one we most identify with success. Personally, I think it short-changes the word’s meaning because it implies that if you don’t attain fame, wealth or power you are not successful.
Many of us are in bondage to this particular concept because of the material values put upon us by family, career colleagues, media, etc. and it’s quantifiable by the number of Twitter followers one has, the kind of car one drives, or the length of the letters behind one’s name.
This makes it difficult to embrace other kinds of success, of which there are many that hold just as much, if not more, value than the material. But it takes awareness and the choice to give ourselves permission to acknowledge something other than the status quo.
The fourth definition is clearly the personal label of the second definition, which sort of implies that if you are not somebody successful, then you must be less than, that you have failed, that if you aren’t “somebody” then maybe you are “nobody.” A person’s perception of what it means to be a success can discount important, small victories along life’s journey and rob self-satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
Even definitions 1) “achievement of intention” and 3) “something turns out well” don’t tell the whole story of success. Though, I am pleased that these are more open ended, expansive descriptions of the experience of success.
So what is the whole story? This is what has come to me:
Success is not an achievement unto itself. It consists of many small but no less important steps from where we are to where our highest good resides. Think about that.
Each step has the right to celebration, congratulations and naming of success, even if it is far from the pinnacle of our set intention. This is part of living in the Now, enjoying and appreciating our present experience.
And sometimes our highest good may not be steps towards an intention, but rather to stay still or even take steps back from it. To not push our agenda but be aware of the Flow of a situation ~ and submit to it ~ may feel like things are not turning out well. But upon reflection, the success of this is crystal clear.
Even a perceived failure is a success because it provides an opportunity to learn and grow, revisit a goal, shift direction or change focus. Failure is simply a different kind of step toward our highest good – no more, no less.
Reaching a goal is a success but not the only success.
I invite you to think of the journey on the way to a goal, or set intention, as True Success. Giving recognition to each choice made and the positive attitude held regarding these choices, having patience, being flexible, being committed, showing compassion, offering gratefulness along the way – these are the important elements of being a success, of being somebody, … of being fully human.
Recognize and give due credit to all of your successes ~ big and small, challenging and easy, expected and unintended. Enjoy the journey of success!