I read an interesting quote:
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein
This is interesting to me — I (and many other business writers) often talk about success and what it takes to get there. When I thought about how I would actually define success, however, my definition varied from the norm. You see, many people define success based on their job title, their salary, and the perception others have of them. This seems like a pretty awful definition of success.
To me, success is the person who is constantly working toward goals and still gets up every single time they are knocked down. They are the person who knows that decisions are made with either your head, heart, or gut, and they try their hardest to pick the right tool for their decision. Success happens when you make mistakes, rebound, and try again. Success is knowing that an obstacle is not something you can’t overcome, but deciding how you are going to approach it the first, second, and possibly third (or more) time — never giving up, even when people tell you that your path won’t work. Believing in yourself, because you want to be different and make a difference.
I didn’t set out to write an inspirational piece today. Originally, I wanted to write about the consultant/client relationship. Lately, when I try to sit down and write, I’ve been a bit uninspired. I try to write from what I know and what I’m working on lately, and this is it: not letting others define what success means for me. I spent a large portion of my life and career trying to please others, and trying to take their opinions and thoughts and feelings into consideration. I’m not saying that everyone should ditch their manners and be selfish, I’m saying that we need to consider ourselves first.
When we constantly focus on others and their needs, we aren’t taking care of ourselves. When my son was in Kindergarten, he read the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” The gist of the story is that we all have buckets, and when they are full, we feel happy and fulfilled; but when they are empty, we get tired, grumpy, and unmotivated. Too often, as adults, parents, and employees, we allow our buckets to become bone dry. We spin our wheels trying to juggle everything that society tells us we need to do to live up to our potential — but too often, this produces nothing positive. When your bucket is empty, you have nothing left to offer anyone else. When you take care of yourself first, you don’t allow that bucket to empty completely.
Other people try to tell us what will make us happier, healthier, wiser, more productive — I’m guilty of this! We focus so much on what we’re not getting done and where we are failing that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we do get done. We fail to define success on our own terms. We fail to set the path that we want. When we focus less on becoming successful, and more on being valuable — as well as our own self-worth — we align our goals with an actual potential to achieve them.
How do YOU define success?