What is your idea of success?

3, Feb, 2013, by Seema Bhatnagar

Celebrities, magazines, newspapers or any inspiring speech talks about success. Day and night at home or at work or anywhere else we constantly hear this word. The fact is, everybody has a strong desire to be successful and is running after success. Since childhood, our parents and teachers also encourage us to strive for success. Like all, I am also curious about the word "success" and the experience attached to it.

Out of my inquisitiveness, I have several queries regarding success. I always feel if everybody wants to be successful then what it means to be successful, what are the ways in which one can be successful, what are the ways in which an individual can drive herself/himself for a success? What happens after becoming successful? Has anybody ever become really successful? These are some of the questions which constantly cross my mind.

What is success?

success quote from ralph waldo emerson

It is Industrialization, commenced in 18th century, which injected the pattern of success in the mind of millions. The first requirement of industrialization was to have individuals who can work dedicatedly in factories without applying much of their brains. This drastically affected the creativity of people and they started believing that getting a paid job is more comfortable than struggling to create something of their own. This encouraged a whole new culture of getting degrees and getting jobs where people are competing with each other for the amount of salary rather than the depth of creativity, skills, and experience involved in the job.
Post industrialization, the most popular and commonly heard definition of success is to get a degree from prestigious college, to get a job in prestigious MNC, reaching to the top most hierarchy of a corporate (a CEO, may be), having a plush home, a happy family behind and possessing all possible luxuries. In crux, it is mainly about accumulating money, as much as possible, and to top the list of richest people in the world. If one goes by this definition then almost 99% people on the planet would be ranked as unsuccessful. Does it mean that only 1% people are successful on this planet?

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." ~ Albert Einstein

Why success, like popularly known as, has to be in becoming an engineer or doctor or may be a millionaire? Why money has to be a sole criterion of measuring success? Probably, because inherently we all are driven by the survival mindset and it is extremely difficult to overcome that. Many people are in race of earning and accumulating as much as possible to ensure they can have a reasonably decent (not plush) life style and their next generation does not feel the pinch of money. Fundamentally, for majority, the idea of success is to earn and save for future which is nothing but a survival mindset. Money is definitely important to fulfill the materialistic needs but it cannot be the measure of success.

Success has different definition and meaning at various stages of life. What matters at the age of 20 might feel meaningless at the age of 30 and so on. Every person has his/her own definition of success.

After reading about famous personalities who have left behind indelible marks in history, one common point which I have observed is that they had a larger than life purpose for which they breathed, lived and died. They had a fire in their belly to see their dreams, purpose getting realized. They trod to every possible extent without any sign of exhaustion and fatigue and fulfilled their dreams. One important thing to take notice of is, the famous personalities who changed the path of history, not all of them were millionaires, and in fact majority of them lived a humble life and some of them even remained anonymous for many years. Doesn't it convey that money absolutely cannot be the criterion of measuring success, then, what else could be the measure of success?

Success has different definition and meaning at various stages of life. What matters at the age of 20 might feel meaningless at the age of 30 and so on. Every person has his/her own definition of success. A person staying in a small and dingy place may consider himself/herself successful because s/he has a peace at home and not running after 9-5 job. Another person may feel successful because s/he is earning a handsome salary and working with the top most company and enjoying the beautiful surroundings around home, another could feel successful because s/he has become a painter. A success could be if one becomes, a painter, a sculptor, a cook or a writer or a dancer, a mother or a father or a lover, it can be anything, possibilities are just endless. It can be anything to be called as successful; you do not need to be a rock star or a millionaire.

If it is so simple then why people are so frustrated even after achieving what they desired? The problem arise when one start comparing personal success with others. In school, college, work or at home, there is always a comparison in some form or another. Even on knowing the fact that we are all unique in terms of our experiences, background and upbringing many of us keep comparing self with others. Above all, each one of us has own set of skills and capabilities then it really makes no sense comparing each other. Also, there is a whole dynamics of opportunities in one's life. With so many variables present how can one be compared to others. It is utterly weird even thinking of comparison. This constant comparison of personal success with others becomes the sole reason of stress and anxiety in today's life.

To some extent the comparison is good as it tells you that one can try to reach that possibility also but if one takes comparison as a matter of self esteem and becomes emotionally attached to it then it is a real problem else it is healthy.

Your success in real terms is when you reach to the peak of your personal potential and have no insecurity about life and when you are able to express yourself to your inner most core. When you do not feel the compulsion to comply with the standard definition of success.

How to be successful?

"Action is the foundational key to all success." ~ Pablo Picasso

Is there any formula of becoming successful? Fortunately or unfortunately, there is none. Had there been a formula, I would have been writing about how to manage success then to define success. To define your own success, first of all, you must ask yourself, why do you want to be successful? Is it just to impress your parents, peers , friends or relatives? What is that which is making you to think about becoming successful? If you are simply pursuing something to impress others, you might feel good after achieving it but very soon the effect will fizzle out and the emptiness will set in.
If you really want to be successful in real terms then first strive to define success in your own words. It might be a difficult exercise initially because the definition is already laid out for you by others and breaking that and thinking something different takes lot of courage and efforts. We are so deeply conditioned about the word "Success" that we have an inherent fear of defining success in our own words. Even if you dare to define success in your own words, you would feel a fear of ridicule and rejection from others and only this fear compels majority of us to accept the standard definition of success. People whom you feel as successful (in your own definition) have seen many failures in their life, which remains hidden from public view and only the success part is visible and that is a reason failure is considered negative and retrogressive.

Take the first step and define goals and vision which matches your capacity, current set of skills, and experiences. All successful people were at your stage sometime in their past, the only realization which took them closer to their success was that they are unique in every possible way and so success should be unique too. Striving towards your goals and reaching to the point which you envisioned for self should be enough to take you towards success and no power can stop you from reaching there.

Going against the standard definition, Success is a competition with self to become better every day and to reach the pinnacle of personal potential. It is a journey to reach the place where you meet yourself in full colors and experience a continuous state of satisfaction and inner happiness

"Never continue in a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you'll have more success than you could possibly have imagined." ~ Roger Caras

Doing a job and earning money might feel comfortable and there is nothing bad in it but at the same time if there is a feeling of emptiness then it is sufficient to indicate that you are not successful. Not enough challenges and staying in a comfort zone is the most suboptimal way of living and surely success always remains distant for such people. Probably, you are wasting much of your potential at the cost of security of money. Remember, success is not a STOP at one point; one must explore the possible avenues of growth to live the best of personal potential.

Living your purpose and doing something which is close to your heart and that which allows you to express yourself fully is a success indeed, no other definition of success is correct than this.

My idea of success

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." ~ Winston Churchill

Personally, I have never believed that there is anything like success for me, the idea of living with peace, harmony and achieving the best of personal potential has been my prime goal. I have never imagined myself as a richest person, a celebrity or any public figure, personal growth has always been my prime focus than being called as successful. The idea of being or becoming successful gives me stress and anxiety and it tells me that I have to constantly outperform others or to prove myself better than others and truly speaking, I am really not good at that. I simply love to go at my own pace.

My personal parameters of successful life are constantly changing. What I feel was important at the age of 18 or 30 years is no more carrying any value, they were simply the phases which gave pass to next one. Many of those things which I wanted to achieve at the age of 25, 30, 35, I have achieved but still I do not feel any success in it. It is true that achieving anything could be called as success but there are certain things which I could not achieve, so should I call myself as a failure, I do not think so. Failures and success are two temporary states in personal growth and one is always followed by other.

I would rather feel good to be called as "Growthful" than as "Successful". There are so many things which I have thought to achieve in future and not achieving that will not label me as a failure and similarly achieving those would not make me as successful but yes, in any case I would experience growth. I am definitely not after conventional success but strongly believe in having intense growth in every possible way. To me, actually, personal growth is the only success.

Your success story

"The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way." ~ Robert Kiyosaki

My profession is to motivate, encourage and support people in achieving personal success but whenever I talk to my coachees, the first and foremost questions which comes to my mind is if s/he has a clear definition of becoming successful or s/he is simply trying to address only a temporary issue of life and in majority of the cases, the latter one goes true. So it is important to understand what success means to you and only then you would be able to figure out the clear vision about your success.

When it comes to your success story, having only one life means one should live it fully, absolutely the way you want. Shed your inhibitions and define success in your own words first, then only you can think of achieving it. Unlike majority do not accept the standard idea of success from others.

Successful does not mean reaching to any end point rather success is just a temporary state and it might be followed by either success or failure. Define your own goals and vision for life and strive to achieve that to feel successful. Attaining any particular state is not called as success but persistently striving to achieve what you have envisioned for yourself is a success in true sense. Success is a life long journey, at every milestone you may experience success or failure but that should not deter you from making more goals to reach the best of your potential.

Imagine, if everybody has his/her own definition of success, then this world will be an exuberant place to live and people will be more friendly and happy towards each other. Let's imagine such a beautiful world by defining our own success first.

Success is living the best of personal potential. Wishing you a life abundant with success.

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Seema Bhatnagar
, Blogger, Writer, Life Coach and Founder of Abundance Thinkers, site for personal growth and development. Empowering people in achieving and living the best of personal potential.

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