What a question?! What is success is a question I explore with so many people; mentees, peers, bosses, friends, family……everyone.
An answer I often hear in the list of things that define success is money…..being successful means having the money to do what I want and provide for my family.
Ok, sure……providing for your family is success, 100% agreed. But lots of money doesn’t dictate your level of care. It just gives you more choices; you get more choices of food, homes, cars, holidays, jewellery and transportation. That’s it. We still have the same stuff, but yours some people stuff costs more. I may have a ring from Etsy, you may have one from Cartier – we still both have a ring we love.
If you have a child you can take them to a Caribbean beach or Weymouth beach – they still went to the beach. The expense of the holiday does not dictate whether it will be more or less successful (assuming success is having fun and spending time together). The expense is irrelevant when you are building a sand castle. It’s the sand that’s amazing.
If you have a wife or husband and take them for dinner, the bill at the end does not dictate the level of success of that dinner (assuming success is having a great time together). Sure, foodies will beam over diverse flavours and clever cooking (as I do) but I can tell you some of the most successful dinner dates I’ve had were eating dirty fries and laughing my butt off with a Budweiser.
Taking care of your family and yourself; care is an action, not an amount. Reading or doing homework is the same, whether you are sat in a 3 bedroom house on a council estate or 12 bed mansion in Cheshire. (Although the latter needs a cleaner, costs a fortune to heat and light and you’ll need to sell a car for the counsel tax – none of that sounds like care though does it?!)
So, I challenge the view of having money as a success factor – it might be an aspiration and that is 100% awesome and valid for you – but is money success?! I dunno.
Let’s say you go to a bar on a Saturday, you’re chillin’ with your friends and you meet someone (unromantically) and they say they were successful……pause for a moment and think of all the questions you have for them. Mine would be something like ‘Awesome, what do you do. Tell me everything about your journey to becoming SO SMASHY’. And I would lean forward and listen excitedly…..
Now, imagine their answer was: I won the lottery.
How are you feeling about this explanation of success? They have money, right?! And awesome that they won the lottery. But would you define that as success? Would you be like ‘I met this awesome chick last night, so inspiring and successful. She won the lottery’. I know my friends would say that is awesome and then ask what she did? (So we could get her out for drinks – naturally). They would see the word successful and lottery as two separate points – wouldn’t you?
What about if the answer were my dad/partner owns a FTSE 100.
Again, how are you feeling about this explanation of success? Again, they have money, right?! And good for them on the great hand life has handed them, honestly. But, does that sit with the word successful for you?
Now imagine those answers with the addition of ‘And I set up a charity, it doesn’t turn over a lot but it really helps communities in Africa or the UKs vulnerable adults’. That feels more valid to me, but why?! Same person, with the same money.
Imagine the answers with the addition of ‘and I now invest in property and crypto. I’m fairly new at it but it’s going really well.’
Same person again, not even doing something ethically easy to say ‘aaah, that’s awesome’ to. But it feels more valid in terms of an explanation of success doesn’t it.
The thing often missed about success is it’s about your input resulting in your reaching or moving towards your aim. It’s about your effort and work getting you to where you want to be.
If we looked at success as an equation (success: input + effort = aim), we would look at our aims a little closer and align our activities (input) and trajectory defining efforts to those aims.
Of course you can go material with aims, but what costs money continues to cost money. You’ll just work to maintain stuff that matters to others (for the most part). Above the material, what do you want to be known for? What’s you aim in life, because we only have one. What do you want to experience and learn? Who would you love to help?
If we replaced typical aims with aims around how we feel, how much we know or can learn, how much good we can do in the world we would all be richer and that richness is a wealth you can’t buy a car with, but you can’t lose it either.
The richest people I know have very little, love a lot, laugh more and see and listen to as much as possible.
This post is dedicate to Amy Purcell, who travelled with next to nothing, gave everything, lived fully and was the richest person in life and in soul that I ever met. RIP Gazelle x