What You Were Taught About Success Is Wrong.

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. ~Vince Lombardi

The Inner Critic lives!
What makes you a success?

What makes you a success?

What defines success to you? If you’re like most people, your definition was formed by your parents and society. This definition is internalized and became the measuring stick that our inner critic uses to prove what failures we are.

Our families are the major contributor to our subconscious idea of success… My family measures success with money.

“How much does it pay?”, “He’s doing well”, and “She has a great job” are common conversation openers when it comes to success. Eventually, this leads to “I hate my job, but” and “Nobody LIKES work”…

Doug and I think success is a personal measurement. What we feel is successful may not be the same for you. Doug thinks having a banana tree in the yard makes him a big deal… I couldn’t care less.

Defining our success

I decided to think about what success means to me. After stripping away what I’ve been told success is, money and status, I’m able to see my personal definition.

It’s inevitable that my personal definition resembles the one I was programmed with. What’s important though, is to look beyond our programming and embrace our authentic version of success.

I chipped away at my definition of success to reveal the true core that will guide me on my path to contentment. After thinking about what I found I came up with my personal “rules” of success:

My talents can be developed and used to make a living for me. They can also be used to help others who are stuck in life and are unsure about what to do.

I know I am successful in my career when I am content, feel useful, make a difference and bring home decent pay (it’s still there).

In order to have a fulfilling career I must feel like I’m doing something useful and making a difference. I have to be doing something that makes me get out of bed in the morning… Something that seems necessary and not just mindless plodding.

I will be successful when I stick with what I’m doing, when I follow through with my efforts.  I’ll know I’m successful, career-wise, when I have a purpose, am interested in what I’m doing, am making a difference and being paid fairly.

Exercise

Think about your definition of success. What were you taught success is by your family and society?

What is your authentic definition of success? To figure it out, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can my skills do for me?
  • How do I know when I’m successful in my career?
  • What does a job have to have for me to be content?
  • What will it be like when I’m successful? How will I know I am?

Write down your answers and compare them to the definition your were taught. Are there similarities? Differences?

How much of your subconscious definition isn’t really true for you, once you really think about it?

Define you rules of success!

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22 comments

  1. Good definition of success, Doug. Well articulated!

    1. Thanks Tim! I’m trying to redefine my life instead of just accepting what I was taught.

  2. The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both. . . . Buddha

    1. This is a good point, Jim. It’s hard to feel this way if you’re stuck in a job you hate because it pays well.

  3. Goodness Doug, what a freaking great post. LOVE IT!

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Vince Lombardi, whoever he was, ( will have to google that) was spot on when he referred to ‘Will’.
    Motivation makes an incredible difference. Some people are clever, really clever, some are strong, they might be very strong, but if they lack the will, they may never be successful by anyone’s definition. But would they realise this themselves, or would their definition of success, still mean that they had been successful?. Successful in avoiding responsibility, or successful in living their own lives, as opposed to be measured and critiqued by other’s and their own individual opinions?. Still, I ponder long about motivation, where and how it comes or doesn’t come, to pass. The sense of contributing something seems to be a salient point in feeling a sense of contentment (and perhaps, individual success)

  5. Reblogged this on Something to Ponder About and commented:
    Vince Lombardi, whoever he was, ( will have to google that) was spot on when he referred to ‘Will’.
    Motivation or will, this intangible thing called ‘drive’ or even ambition, makes an incredible difference to how successful some people are. Some people are clever, really clever, some are strong, they might be very strong, but if they lack the will, they may never be successful by anyone’s definition. But would they realise this themselves, or would their definition of success, still mean that they had been successful? Successful in avoiding responsibility, or successful in living their own lives, just how they wanted, as opposed to being measured and critiqued by other’s and those people’s own individual opinions? Still, I ponder long about motivation, where and how it comes or doesn’t come, to pass. The sense of contributing something to the work or family or societal environment seems to be a salient point in feeling a sense of contentment, worth (and perhaps, individual sense of success).

    I don’t feel successful in my work – if measured by paycheck. But I do feel very contented in my work.

    Successful in my career? Probably not, as my paycheck went backwards, but again: this is a financial measure. In terms of contentment, happiness, fulfillment, and (considering some of the jobs I have done), my sanity, utterly successful. This is the job I don’t want to leave until I retire.
    How will I know I am successful?
    Well this depends on your criteria, entirely, which brings us back to the same instrospection of what your personal definition is…

    Have you pondered your measure of success? What would your answers’ to Doug’s questions be?

  6. By the way, I re-blogged and added my own response. Great topic, and very thought provoking.

    1. Great! I read your post… You bring up some good points to ponder.

      1. Thanks, I often wish I had a magic key for motivation, when dealing with undermotivated schoolkids or persons suffering with depression, but this has got me to re-examine if I am not putting too much of my impression and wishes on my judgement of their circumstance. Thanks again for posting. Keep up the great work.

      2. Thanks for the feedback… It’s tough to let others develop their personal sense of success. Even though I wrote this post, I still struggle with trying to tell my children the “right” or “best” way to do something… Partly because they are still young. I believe when they’re older I’ll trust that they were raised well and will know what success is for them, personally.

      3. And when they grow up, they often can surprise us, as parents. Usually in good ways. Those values we consciously and unconsciously teach them do rumble away in the background and influence them. It is a fast and dangerous world they will inherit, and giving them the tools to cope with or without sucess is so important.

  7. A wonderful, profound and thought provoking topic… I have come to realised that success for me is the complete feeling of happiness inside out in whatever I do… Yes, for me successful=total happyness… Knowing what I didn’t want in life was more important for me than the other way around, and always will lead me to where I would be happy…. I already find myself saying to my four year old toddler that he must always thrive for happyness in live, whatever it takes, and his future degree in life will be on ‘being happy’… He says, ‘yes mummy’…haha, as he would really understand …bless him!!!
    I am happy in my job, but I know I would be happier if I could make a living as a full time artist..(wow!…big dream!!)
    Thanks John for such an interesting post.. I agree with your thoughts entirely.

    1. Hi Gloria-It’s good that you’re happy in your current job. At least you don’t feel smothered and unfulfilled. This is a good starting point from which to build towards your dreams.

      A PHD in being happy… That’s a good goal to instill in your son!

      1. Thanks John… Yes, I really hope I can instigate my son the importance of being happy with himself and in turn with everyone and everything around him.. I remember crying a lot when I was little (I grow up with an aunt, bcos my mother became a widow when she was 36 years old and had to work very hard to give my two brothers, who grow up in an orphanage, and I the best standards, as she never wanted us to lack in anything just bcos we didn’t have a father!), perhaps because I was already dealing with so many emotions.. My mother will always look so sad.. She never remarried and at 86 year old she still misses my father… She has lived her entire life through suffering, bless her, she is such an incredible women.. Happiness was not part of the equation in those days…

  8. mauruschka · · Reply

    My family also measures success with money, it can be very irritating sometimes, feels like you want to run away. I like people like you who thinks success is a personal measurement.

    1. I know a lot of people who have plenty of money but are not happy…

      1. mauruschka · ·

        That is sad!

  9. mauruschka · · Reply

    Reblogged this on .

  10. So happy you stumbled upon my blog because YOUR blog is just what I’m needing now.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I’m happy you’ve found some value in my posts…

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