“Success is a journey, not a destination” (B. Sweetland)
Do you think it’s possible to be successful without being happy? Can one be happy and not be successful? Success and happiness – how closely aligned are they in your life? How do you define success for yourself?
The Oxford dictionary defines success as: a favourable outcome, accomplishment of what was aimed at, attainment of wealth or fame or position. Thing or person that turns out well.
I was raised to believe that to be successful I needed to be driven and goal oriented and to be the best at everything I did; also that as soon as I achieved a goal, it was time for me to set my sights on, and then attain the next, bigger goal. There was no time along the way to stop and acknowledge what I had accomplished. My definition of success was tied to income, academic achievement, and position and to constantly outdoing my last achievement. Was I successful? Yes. Was I happy? It was never a consideration.
Much like so many others, I had been so influenced and defined by the expectations and standards placed on me by my parents, school, the media, etc, that I honestly didn’t know what I actually wanted, or even ultimately, who I was.
A personal crisis in my life quite a number of years ago led me to begin what turned out to be an amazing journey of self-discovery and personal leadership. Over the years my attitude towards success and my definition of it changed. It was and has been, incredibly powerful and liberating to discover and express myself fully from a place of what I want and choose in my life rather than what I believe I ‘should’ do, and living up to other peoples’ expectations. It has also been instrumental in enhancing my personal and professional leadership skills, and in increasing my happiness.
Has this made me any less successful or any less able to set and achieve goals? Quite the contrary. The great thing about knowing what I want, what’s important to me and what MY values are – is that when I choose and set goals that are in alignment with my values and purpose — I feel so much more inspired and energized which makes it easier to make long term commitments , to stay motivated and to achieve those goals. And interestingly I do stop now along the way to acknowledge what I achieve, which makes the successful attainment of my goals much more fulfilling and has me feeling happier!
Many of my coaching clients and participants in the personal awareness, mastery and leadership workshops that I facilitate are working to unravel their own definition of success, what’s important to them and what they really want, from the standards and expectations of others that they had assumed from their upbringing. I have been so inspired by what people are able to create and build in their lives, careers and businesses when they harness and focus the increased energy that is available to them as they become more self-aware and define their own vision and sense of purpose. It is wonderful to see individuals flourish and succeed in setting and achieving their goals as they understand themselves better and become more confident.
It can be a real eye opener for many to take a look at some of the research and real business results which show the positive impact on business success when employees and customers are happy – when they understand and believe in a the business mission and purpose and when employees also believe they can influence it and have a positive impact on it. People given opportunities for autonomy, mastery and purpose tend to be more positively motivated and have greater personal satisfaction – and will also tend to be more successful and contribute more to business success.
A few presentations you may find interesting:
Measuring what makes life worthwhile – Hotelier Chip Conley has built a successful business model based on happiness. He revamped his business model to focus on the intangible, higher needs of his company’s three main constituencies — employees, customers and investors. The results have been extremely successful.
Daniel Pink’s presentation – The Surprising Truth Truth About What Motivates us and RSA Animate’s adaptaption of his presentation Some surprising research shows that when even rudimentary conceptual creative thinking is required – traditional financial incentive rewards systems not only don’t improve performance but can actually have a negative impact – higher incentives can actually lead to worse performance. As long as people are paid enough – opportunities at work for autonomy, mastery and purpose are the motivators which lead to better performance.
The greatest gift my mother ever gave to me, was not long before her death when she asked me, for the first time in my life – “are you happy?”
Are YOU happy?
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” Albert Schweitzer
Trish Brydon is a coach, trainer and consultant with Optim People Partners www.optimpeople.com . She has a passion for partnering with and inspiring individuals and organizations to draw out and build on their strengths to not only be successful, but to thrive. Connect with Trish on LinkedIn or follow Trish on Twitter
**The title for this blog is taken from my Master of Arts in Leadership final project of the same name published with © May 2001. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/MQ59426