Success = ?
So this recent blog post and subsequent Linkedin post have really pleasantly surprised me with the amount of engagiment they received. The subject of both was building your own path to success and what you would tell your 14 year old self.
It shows there are so many people who have chosen their own career path, very different from the well trodden path and carved themselves a niche in the world.
Within the comments there was one that really stuck out to me from Innsbruck native Christian Bach who replied to my original question with a very simple “define success”. I wouldn’t expect anything else from one of the smartest people I know.
Instantly it struck home to me. In general society views success as people at the top of corporations with wealth and power. I even looked at a couple dictionary definitions “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame”. Wealth and fame are the 2 generally most associated with success. Respect is much like beauty and in the eye of the beholder I imagine.
My quick response to Christians question was “Happiness”. It has had me thinking for a week though about this question and the validity of my response. This current global situation we find ourselves in with lockdown in most countries we are seeing a re-evaluation of whats important and what success actually looks and feels like for each of us. The ability to be happy spending time on our own or within our family contrsutct quickly makes us realize how apparent this scale becomes.
Success as an idea is interesting as back to the dictionary reference what it doesn’t show is health, friendships and happiness, 3 metrics which should likely be focused on more. Its become a badge of honor to claim you had to work late or on weekends, that we’re busy, that life is crazy whereas we should be spending that time on connecting more. I can bet the number of people who have just spent more time connecting with friends and family throughout this has gone up exponentially.
The other reason that the happiness label also came up was that thinking about my own circle of friends one of the seemingly most happy people I know was actually affected quite seriously by this virus which did bring into light how I and other people view him. Without doubt the nicest, happiest, kindest person I know. I still remember driving across Europe with him 15 years ago with his mix tapes at the ready his hand written letters back to his friends* at home. Always stopping to send his grandparents a postcard where ever we went.
Nowadays he spends his winters driving a snow cat around a resort in Austria in between snowboarding and his summer looking after a golf course (again, in between rounds). He always keep money coming in, so he has enough to go snowboarding or play golf and have a couple of beers at the end of the day and is only too happy to share a 6 pack with you. His happy go lucky attitude to life is something that I think so many of us can learn from, I know I can for sure. Its so easy to fall into the trap of planning ahead and thinking about something 10 years down the line, but sometimes you have to be happy being present in the here and now and just, being. Just enjoying.
He is the person who no matter who comes to town he’s happy to show them around, introduce them to beer pong or whatever hes getting into that night and never has a bad word to say about anyone. He doesn’t seem to spend his time on those kind of thoughts as they distract from enjoying himself. Since we’ve been friends for 20 years now, seeing him meet my son for the first time was amazing as the connection he had with him was very special for me to see.
I was listening to an interesting podcast from Sam Harris who eerily enough had an episode on what defines Happiness this week which broke down Happiness and his guest broke it down further into the happiness of the now vs the happiness of reflectivity. So for example (and this will be another post) when you have kids this thing seems to happen of “long days short years” where you end up somedays not knowing how to get through until bed time but then you sit back and each year that goes by you only see the positive and you reflect on how happy you are. As I say that’s a whole other debate but did think it brings an interesting slant to the longer term view of happiness.
So next time someone asks you on Linkedin what success means I will add a happiness modifier to the question. The next time you are evaluating your own life, just think “what can I learn from that one friend?”. I know for me that means more connection to friends, enjoying the here and now, procrastinating less, having that beer at the end of the day and of course writing that postcard to someone who will really value it.