I’ve been coming across some interesting articles and motivational speeches lately. All providing me with about 64 ways to be(come) successful. And if I’m lucky, I find one that claims following all of their steps will guarantee success in all areas of my life.
But one thing I’ve noticed with these steps to success preachings, is that none of them start off with defining success. And even if they choose not to because the explaination in Websters dictionary is too broad or too plain, why don’t they start off by telling us what success means to them? Wouldn’t it be far more logical to tell me what my goal is exactly so that I can understand the steps you are asking me to take?
At the age of 16 I completed a 4 year course in marketing and communications when my (single) mother lost her high paying job. She quickly found herself surrounded by dept and wouldn’t have a stable income for years to come. Since I was already working part time after school from the age of 13, now being 16 I decided to start working full-time to pay the bills.
Getting a full time job was easy, I had built up quite some work experience after all. And even though I wanted to continue studying to fulfill my family’s dreams of becoming either a doctor or a lawyer, I felt responsible for our household now. So I worked at an insurance company for some time and later on became the youngest insurance advisor at that firm. I then switched to a multinational company, also in insurance, and was named employee of the year that same year again being the youngest to have been awarded that title in the firm. It was during this time that I started wanting more and more. I wanted to do better, I wanted to grow faster. I wanted to be a success. But I didn’t have a university degree yet. Fortunatly my work spoke for itself, even though the position I was holding at the time required one. I still felt as though all I had accomplished so far was nothing without that piece of paper on the wall.
I was turning 19 now and had been able to provide enough income for the 3 of us to live on. I decided that if I wanted to be content with myself, I’d have to sacrifice saving for my own place and car and what not, and get into a university first. I knew I couldn’t quit my job as my income was basically all we had. So I enrolled in a dual course. I would work from Monday to Friday and go to school for an entire Saturday while working on and preparing for all my papers every night. I figured getting a higher paying job would be ideal and as fate would have it, I got that higher paying job at the bank. And though it was much more demanding than my previous jobs, I had made up my mind to get my degree no matter what.
Fast forward to today. I completed that course, went on to work at several different companies and got my MBA somewhere in between. Then for a very long time, I was determined to pursue my PhD as well. Until I realized something. All those years of wanting to be the best, wanting those degrees. Were really based on my misguided understanding of success. Why do I say that? Well, I believe in education and being the best in whatever you do. But…
Lets just say that If I could speak to my 13 year old self right now, I would tell her that she was already great working part time while going to school even if it was just for fun. And she would have been equally as great just going to school alone. I would tell my 16 year old self that it would have been OK to let the grown-ups help us out too. I would say to 18 year old me that being the best you can be is really good enough. And I now tell myself everyday, that no piece of paper will ever help me accomplish more than what I believe I can accomplish myself.
And so, I never kept track of the number of steps I took to get me where I am today. And I really don’t need to. Waking up and being able to smile even without reason, to me is success. Loving your child the best way you know how, to me is success. Being there for your spouse when you have nothing else to give, to me is success. Finally taking some time off and jumping into that pool, to me is success. Heck, i’d say setting that cup of coffee all by yourself is a success.
So today I dare you, don’t count your steps. Count your Blessings, because success is you.