“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” Swami Sivananda
I was watching a documentary last week about some celebrities who had spent some time working as volunteer Police Officers with Cambridgeshire Constabulary. At the end of the programme, the celebrities were reflecting on their experience. One of them, Jamie Laing, said the following “People say success is money and fast cars etc. but all that stuff is meaningless at the end of the day. What is important is doing things that change people’s lives for the better.”
This really got me thinking about the subject of success.
I’ve discovered over the years, that very few people have taken the time to contemplate how they define success in their lives. We have been programmed to strive for greater wealth, bigger houses, promotions, faster cars etc. In doing so we may under value the contribution we make to others by encouraging them, helping them out, sharing information and ideas and being kind etc.
Thinking about success reminded me that when I was training to be a coach we had to undertake practical sessions with our peers to develop our knowledge. During one of these sessions, I was asked what I’d like to achieve in life. My instinctive reply was to be happy and successful. The follow up question was simple but very powerful, “How do you define success and happiness?”
It was a great question and it helped me to clearly define what success and happiness meant to me. It served as an excellent measurement system as I set off on a new path and started my career as a coach.
Success is defined in the dictionary as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose and the attainment of fame, wealth or social status.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American poet and philosopher defined success as follows:-
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
As I mentioned earlier, in today’s society when considering how to measure success many people place much emphasis on academic achievement, the size of property, material possessions, amount of wealth and income.
Whilst I believe it’s great to have nice things, material goods are only part of the story. The way we conduct ourselves, the contribution we make to society, how we share knowledge, use our skills and talents to help others are also important measurements of success.
People may consider themselves to be successful if they are a great parent or partner or if they have stayed happily married for many years. The same could be said if they always honour their word, act with integrity, are kind and stick to commitments. They may also be considered as successful if they meet personal goals such as weight loss or fitness targets or if they maintain healthy habits and are generally disciplined and consistent.
We are all unique and therefore I believe it’s important that we develop our own personal definition of success. This helps us to compare our progress in life to our standards rather than comparing our performance with other people’s achievements.
If you would like greater clarity on your success definition, I recommend that you do the following exercise:
Take a sheet of paper and write down up to 10 bullet points (you can restrict it to 5 points) that reflect success for you. Then give yourself a score out of 10 (1 being low, 10 being high) for your personal satisfaction with each of the bullet points. For the areas where you want to improve, set yourself a target score and note down a few action steps to achieve this. Review your progress monthly.
It’s a simple exercise but it provides clarity and a great framework to compare how you are doing in life against your own unique definition. When I’ve completed this exercise with clients I’ve noticed that their definitions often include things that don’t cost a great deal of money and in some instances are free.
Perhaps there is some truth in the old saying “The best things in life are free.” Success doesn’t have to be all about the size of your bank balance or how fast your car goes. Never underestimate the contribution you can make to the world by simple acts of kindness.
It’s impossible to place a value on what you generate from making a difference to other people’s lives and positively influencing them forever. It will also help to build a long lasting legacy.
This week take a few moments to pause and reflect. Ask yourself, “How do I define success in life?”
To arrange a free no obligation consultation, please contact Stephen Pauley via the contact form or by e mail: Stephen@befirstclass.co.uk