Are you a Success?
I see sleeplessness and worry; she is, by her admission, weary under the weight of questions and fear around her decision to close down her business.
She slumps, cringing in defeat and shame, and confesses, no, apologizes for proving the naysayers right and for being a failure.
I try to listen, but I feel myself start to rebel. I am tired of this narrative about how we should judge our efforts. And so as I look at the face in front of me, shattered from the belief that she is not a success, the warrior in me rises.
Someone has hijacked the meaning of success and I am tired of being subjected to their ads that promise me they hold the key. What irks me is they presume to know what MY success looks like (a six-figure income and vast blog reach making me BIG and DOMINATING) and that it is the same for everyone.
I refuse to succumb to someone else’s “success” anymore.
I’d rather talk about fulfillment, joy, meaning, or whatever word I land on that makes me smile longingly. My newest measure is not “is this a success moment” but rather “is this a GLORIOUS moment?”
So I get up, hand her a kleenex and a champagne glass.
“I am going to pop a cork, and we are going to talk about what we are celebrating.
I’ve heard your story of “not being a success”, now tell me about being Glorious…”
When you felt the beginnings of a dream and you dared to believe in yourself, instead of the much easier route of pretending you didn’t hear your soul speaking in the first place. Glorious.
That day you looked at the naysayers who wanted you to favour safety over inspiration, then went about finding financing and partners who would share and shoulder your dream. Glorious.
The guts it took to resist the shortcuts, the cheaper but value-bending options, all while standing, feet wide in your power pose. Glorious.
The soft humbleness through which you found the courage to seek advice, shift your plans, dream up the community that would surround you. Glorious.
The integrity with which you took responsibility for your creation, staying up at night to look over the numbers for the 100th time, all the while holding fiscal responsibility, blaming no one, not the economy nor the clients, Glorious.
Success is a state that you have a right to define, for yourself. And if you define it as a succession of moments in which you were “glorious”, well then, that changes everything, doesn’t it?
Why do we take glory and success away from one another by holding ourselves up to impossible, other-defined standards?
It takes bravery to reclaim the right to define our success.
We have to start putting weight on the things that matter to us and to do the hard work of owning the measures to which we will account our days. Do you know what they are for you?
How many times have I faltered when challenged to justify the success of my own company, a coaching and retreat practice that allows me to live my best life, sharing my gifts in a way that brings me exquisite meaning and makes a deep contribution to those I work with, with questions about profit margin, scalability or endorsements?
How many champagne-worthy moments have I let pass me by because I was caught up in success-rhetoric that I don’t even believe in?
Staying focused on what matters to me is a daily endeavor. And I can admit, I often get sucked into society’s self-minimizing language and shame, forgetting to define for myself what matters most.
But just when I start to lose my wrestling match with worthiness, beautiful reminders come in and save the day.
Just yesterday my best friend’s mother leaned in, kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love what you are doing with your life.”
High praise from a wise elder.
Touching another’s heart, following my dream, and being seen for who I am.
And in the end, isn’t that the bottom line?
There is success for all of us if we dare to claim it.
What is your Glorious?
Come and reclaim your own Glorious.
Tania Carriere, leadership coach and founder of Advivum Journeys hosts international, transformative retreat experiences. She is an Adjunct Faculty member of the Modern Elder Academy. www.advivumjourneys.ca