I’ve heard the question posed “what does success look like to you?”
I always find it quite hard to answer, because I guess I haven’t really thought about striving for “success” as if it were some destination to arrive at.
The often spoken about “hallmarks” of success that focus on assets and wealth have never really been that important to me – which probably explains why I am not financially wealthy! But I am rich in other things that matter to me more.
Success is such an odd concept to me. Of course, I understand that in the context of setting a measurable goal, success is achieved once the goal is achieved. But we don’t ever stop setting the next goal, and the next – so, at least to me, it is not just about success. It is far more about the journey and perhaps more importantly about growth and progress.
Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
I love that quote.
It speaks to the fact that success is not a destination, or an end point, that failure should be an expected part of the journey and that what really matters is the courage to keep going even when unexpected things happen.
Courage to overcome
So where does that courage come from? Why do some people, seemingly have more courage than others?
When we get knocked down, how do we find the strength to pick ourselves up to move forward?
In my experience, it has quite a bit to do with our intestinal fortitude (our values, our beliefs, our self-talk) and our purpose (our “why”, our cause, our dream). It also seems to me, to be less about the magnitude of our dream, but more about its outward focus.
“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.” – Bessie Stanley
Last week was one of those “roller-coaster” weeks for me – with some ups, some downs and a few unexpected twists and turns! Sometimes I can be hard on myself when things don’t go to plan, or when I don’t achieve as much as I wanted to.
Focusing on the positives and reminding myself of my bigger picture purpose, helps me to keep pressing on despite the obstacles that came my way.
So many of my clients are facing one of the hardest things in life – the loss of a loved one. The journey, while different for each one, inevitably involves experiencing the various phases of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance), sometimes more than once or twice. Often handling the estate administration is overwhelming enough, let alone having to navigate that process when an estate battle between family members begins to swell on the horizon.
One of the conversations I shared with a client last week, touched on how things might look once the difficult time now faced, had resolved. We talked about how there was more to “winning” than …well… ”winning” in the legal sense of the word.
As lawyers, trained to problem solve, we tend to try and “help” clients by imposing our own ideas about what “success” should look like (according to the law). But success can be so much more meaningful when measured against actual human need – for the conflict to be over, for sleepless nights to stop, for a peaceful existence from which to find a new normal.
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. – Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915)
To me, it is less about success and more about the journey. How about you? What does success mean to you?