Someone spoke to me the other day after meeting a long lost friend and said to me “Steve has really made it, he is so fulfilled, living his true purpose and passion, feels as though every day and moment is a gift, feels truly at peace - he’s just so so successful”.
As you can well imagine that scenario seems like a very unlikely one and truth be told, it is, that conversation did not go that way. It went a little more like this: “Steve has really made it, he is now earning in excess of $ 20 million a year, is driving a Porsche and is living in such a massive house, dam he is successful”.
I asked myself why the former was not a more “acceptable” form of success, why aren’t we all going around chasing that and gloating to each other about our level of inner peace and contentedness? Hearing about more and more celebrities in the news of late going through opioid addictions and mental breakdowns really made me wonder even more why the former is not some epitome of success. Why has it been like this for generations before us, when did we start defining success like this and why? Furthermore what is driving us to deny the widespread signs of unhappiness among highly “successful” people and think differently?
First it seemed very apparent to me, being a proponent of this behavior myself, we are all so driven by instant gratification, the meteoric rise of scrolling, liking and commenting is at the heart of it all, a clear but subdued sign. No one sits on the toilet, waits in a queue or even eats without looking at their phone. Mobile phone are great innovations and so is social media but we must ask what is driving us toward it rather than ban it from our lives. It’s less to do with the phone or the apps and more to do with our state of mind. If sitting in silence and getting to know ourselves a little better is too difficult / painful / boring and the instant hit from social platforms is better then maybe that is why we love the distraction so much. It also tells us why we can’t begin to ask ourselves what success means for us and not those outside of us. The noise we create is just too loud for us to listen to what we really need.
That leads into the next part of the puzzle which is the very definition of success, ask anyone and its always some multifaceted definition comprising of happiness and material abundance, it seems cookie cutter and fabricated. The actual definition shouldn’t matter but more so how we get there, if from some more personal and contemplative path you come to the conclusion that 500 super cars is your definition of success then that’s a keeper. The issue is that we take our definitions from things around us, there is no process per se, we look to those people and experiences that make us feel better about ourselves and that is not true to who we are. We need to be more true to what we actually desire as an individual and have the bravery to stick to it.
In conclusion we need to find meaning in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, in the intangibles and in the only moment we have which is - right now. We need to define success as it applies to us and our own value system. We need to let our very own inner voice speak up and be heard or face the lonely reality of not doing so.
If finding a version of success in some shape or form is important to you and is something that you ponder on a regular basis we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Leave your comments below, we’d love to start the conversation.
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