Sat, 16 April 2016
What does success mean to you?
We start every episode of the Changeability Podcast with the words ‘brought to you by Brilliant Living HQ .com’ because that’s our online home. That’s where you find us, our products, the 89 podcast episodes we’ve published to date, and hundreds of blog posts.
But this week we asked you if you’re experiencing ‘brilliant living’. If you take the dictionary definitions of the two words and put them together it brilliant living means something like ‘living life in a way that is excellent, bright and marvelous, pursuing a lifestyle that feels very good to you.’
We define ‘brilliant living’ as living life on your own terms. Ok, so its not always 100% possible, but it is definitely more possible than most people think.
Sure there are physical and social parameters, but we can push those boundaries and look at what are the real boundaries and which are those created by the cultural norms and social expectations we go along with.
What brought all this on you might ask.
Well this week we had a fabulous day in London. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was the first warm day of spring. We met our son Alexander for a full works English breakfast sitting outside at the Bankside Café – they even had three vegetarian options for me. We walked along the Southbank of the River Thames - past Tate Modern, past Shakespeare’s Globe and down to London Bridge, where we ambled round Borough market, saw the house from Lock Stock and ended up drinking smoothies in the Refectory Garden at Southwark Cathedral – all by lunchtime. Returning along the river to the Royal Festival Hall we met with some Tropical Think Tankers for a Mastermind Session and had a fun productive great time talking business. Then back to my sister’s house for family dinner before driving home to pick up Dude the Dog and get back to our house and bed.
Reflecting on it in my appreciation time the next day I thought to myself – that was a brilliant day. This triggered thoughts about what makes a successful day.
Because in a way success is another way of looking at what brilliant living means to you. So how do you define success – what does success mean to you?
The definition of success
The Oxford Dictionary describes success as
‘The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.’
‘The attainment of fame, wealth or social status.’
‘A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame wealth,'
These last two definitions are interesting because this is the sort of thing that springs to mine when we think about what success means.
Conceptions of success:
Moving up the ladder
There is the idea that success is about getting to the top of the ladder especially in terms of career and moving up the corporate hierarchy. Any organisational chart will make it obvious where you are in the scheme of things, but at what point on that ladder of success will you think you’ve been successful?
It will partly depend on why you’re doing the job. Is success about the status or b the influence and impact you will have? Is it connected to the benefits or trappings of success?
Another way of looking at success is about reaching an expert status. We call people a success when they reach a level of expertise like actors, musicians and sports people.
An interesting question is at what level do you become a success in your own eyes and in the eyes of those around you.
The most common definition of success is probably around financial or monetary success.
There’s a wealth connotation implied when we think about success. When we say someone’s done well or they’re a real success, more often than not the implication is around wealth, but it doesn’t need to be.
Success can equally encompass social impact as seen in social enterprises and community based initiatives and roles.
Then there is success in terms of social standing where success is being in with the right people and networks or getting into the right club and achieving some perceived level of social acceptance.
When we’re at school, college or university, exam success is a massive part of our lives – whether we want it to be or not. People are seen as successful or not depending on the qualifications they achieve and then the occupation they go into.
Once you get into the work place that academic success which you needed to get you there becomes less and less important.
Most of us would want to include definitions of success that revolve around success in aspects of our personal life. It could be in terms of health or fitness or around weight, or success in a hobby we love doing or learning a skill.
What about defining success in terms of our relationships. It could be being a good friend or a good partner, husband or wife or a family member or a great parent or being popular.
Career or business success
Success to you might be about your career and business and it may or may not be associated with money or that it gives you the means to lead the sort of life you want to live. Part time working might not make you successful in terms of your finances but allows you to be a more successful in your parenting role.
In thinking about what success means to you it comes down to what makes you feel like a success or what makes you feel successful.
Success at different ages and stages
Success looks different at different ages and stages of life e.g. someone leaving school will define success differently to someone about to retire. But there are elements and characteristics of success that remain consistent throughout, even if the way they’re played out changes over time.
As you think about what success means to you, think about whether your definition of success allows you to experience these.
A sense of achievement:
From being able to use your talents and skills and getting things done, seeing something through to a good outcome.
Recognition and validation:
One aspect of success is having our efforts or talents recognised and respected and feeling validated.
A sense of self-worth and self-esteem:
We feel successful when we feel valued and recognised but also when we value ourselves and our individuality and capability.
Purpose and values:
Success can be connected with purpose where you have an idea of what you want to achieve and where that purpose is aligned with your personal values. Real success only happens when its in line with what’s important to you. So if integrity is important to you, it doesn’t matter how successful you are in the eyes of the world if you achieve that success in dubious ways. You will not experience success because that wouldn’t be your definition of success.
Security and control:
These are key characteristics of success for many people. Being successful means feeling secure in who you are and what you do and in the basics of life but also having a sense of control or being in charge of your own life and destiny. Being able to choose the sort of life you live.
Contentment with your life and the in your relationships is another facet of success. This is about inner contentment rather than being accepting of things as they are. It doesn’t mean you don’t strive for more or for changes but that this striving helps you grow rather than scuppering you. Because when you are content inside you don’t have to rely on others for that contentment or inner happiness.
Love has a key role to play in success. To love and be loved is an important part of what success means to many people. It’s a big part of what makes them feel successful.
Last but not least comes fulfilment. In a way I think this is one, if not the most important characteristic of success. We feel successful when we feel fulfilled. This could be in so many ways but its about fulfilling potential in any area of your life or work. Its about doing something you feel good about and getting a positive outcome for you or for others. It can also be about contribution.
So what does success means to you? How do you define success in your life - any area of your life? In fact that’s an interesting place to start. What areas of your life spring to mind when you start trying to define what success means – start with those and then move on to others.
Because brilliant living starts with being aware of what you mean by that, what does brilliant living mean to you, what does success mean to you. Next week we’re going to think about how we can measure that success.
If you want a bit of help with thinking about these things sign up for our free changeability starter kit.
Episode 89 of the Changeability Podcast
Hear Julian and I talk about all of this and more besides in episode 89 of the Changeability Podcast.
If you like listening to the show we’d love you to let us know by leaving us a review on iTunes – we will love you even more and at some point we will read it out on the show.