The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.Dalai Lama
“What is success to you?”
She blabbed a few sentences without really knowing what to say. She had considered every aspect and every ramification of her decision, yet never really asked herself what it truly meant to her.
Most of us never really get to ask ourselves the question. If it weren’t for her friend, my sister would probably still be now in her “successful” job, while completely miserable and unfulfilled.
We usually define success by what our ego, our self-esteem or self-importance, wants: I want a bigger house, a better job, recognition, a promotion…We unconsciously believe that this will make us feel “successful”.
The truth is that for some time, it REALLY does.
The ego gets inflated and we feel all proud and happy. Chest upward, chin forward, and a feeling of power! However, everything that goes up must come down at some point. Eventually, that “success” becomes the “norm”, we feel again that something is missing, and we raise the bar again. A bigger house, a better job, more recognition… We start all over again to fulfill our ego’s needs. In fact, the ego’s satisfaction is always temporary.
The dictionary defines success as “The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame”. I must add “health and a sense of fulfillment or joy that come from within”. True success must be sustainable from within as well as from the outside. The ego only looks outward, so we must look inward to answer the most basic question:
“WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?”
In my sister’s case, quitting her corporate job sparked the fire she needed to pursue her true calling. It gave her the freedom to explore and foster her creativity. And the peace of mind to reach her potential and spread her wisdom to those around her, including me.
If my sister had not quit her job, she would certainly not be as happy and accomplished as she is today. And I certainly would not have benefitted from her infinite compassion and empathy.
It is not easy to stray from a predictable path and to venture into the unknown. It is not easy to start a business, freelance, consult or become independent. But for some people, it is the only way to achieve the elusive notion of true success.
Success is very personal, very cultural, and its meaning will change over the course of our lives.
Have you ever pondered the question? Maybe now it’s the time to do it.
Success must fulfill your outer needs as well as your inner needs. Look around you, look inside you, and define what it means to you, looking at all aspects of your life. In the end, life is not about making it through (we can all do that, right?), but about making it with a reassuring bank account, good health, inner joy, and a sparkle of bliss.
How about you? Did you or someone you know find true success after quitting a predictable path and venturing into something new?
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