What do you consider success? It’s the age old question that will get asked again and again with different answers every time. It came up in October when I was a part of The Rise of the Artpreneur presents: Unleash the Beast. I was asked to sit on the Artifact Panel that took place at Pipeline Philly put together by talented singer, songwriter and artrepreneur herself, Kriss Mincey. The moderator for the evening was journalist and host Syreeta Martin and not too far into the panel she asked us to describe what success meant to us. I wanted to give others the opportunity to answer the question and so I didn’t answer at the panel, but figured I would take to the blog to write it out.
Many of us have success so wrong and sometimes we even know our idea of success is wrong and we still can’t seem to fix our perception. We often see it is as money, social status and more and more just in the power of celebrity or popularity. And honestly maybe that is success for you. I am an avid supporter of people defining success for themselves actually. So when I think about it, maybe you don’t have it wrong per say. I’ll just say that you have it way differently than me. I struggle with those thoughts of success too, but I am quicker to downcast those thoughts because I know better for myself and what I have defined success to be.
To be successful in my book is to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. So it is completely objective. You may want to be the most popular reality TV star in the world and so you set that as the goal and take the steps to get there and voila you get your 15 minutes turned lifetime of ratchet fame. So technically, by my definition you would be successful. You set the goal, did the work, and achieved it. That is the only way I now know how to measure my own success.
When I look at success in that way, I no longer compare myself to other people because their goals are not my goals and so they can’t be more successful than me because they aren’t striving for the same things as me. And even when they are, my success is so personal that I can’t base it on their steps because more than likely mine will still be different. It also helps me to appreciate the success I have already achieved even if it doesn’t look like what society is telling me is successful. SO I am successful because in 2014 I set out to write a book and I did and I even sold a few copies which was really a kicker. I am successful because I decided to get more consistent with my blog and immediately saw opportunities present themselves and readership kick up a taste. I am successful because I wanted to create a more robust morning routine that would get me through my day and I created a regime that included journaling, prayer, and reading. Look at all of those success stories!
And yes there are other more long term goals that I have for success that I am still working on, but they don’t make me feel as though where I am currently is an unsuccessful place. And we honestly have to keep that in mind. As millennials, we are soooo forward thinking. We are working to get there and be mega moguls and millionaires before 25, and yadda yadda. But you will find, for your mental wellness that you will need to define and celebrate the small successes along the way. It’s not a race. It is a journey on a path that was created for you to fulfill your own God given purpose.
Growing up, I just wanted to be extraordinary. It didn’t what vehicle it took to get there. I just wanted to have this extraordinary life. But I am learning – and not in this sad way that I am getting older and I’m less optimistic about my chances of greatness, that if I am walking in purpose, whether it is impacting 50 people or 50 million, I will have been successful. Everyone’s purpose will not be the same and as much as we may all want to be Beyoncé or Taylor Swift or Mark Zuckerberg or whoever, we have to understand that walking our own path and not straying is SUCCESS. You are successful when you have achieved being all that God has called you to be.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still expecting to be traveling this world, writing my books and being extraordinary, but I am learning to not want for things outside of my purpose. I will murder every goal in regard to who I am called and destined to be and in that work and journey, I will be able to rest knowing that I was successful in more ways than one. Not just in my ability to pursue a career, but to love, to impact, to raise a family and all those other things that often get eclipsed by the material pursuit of success.
How do you define success? How has that changed from how you used to view success, if at all? What would you need to achieve in your life to truly feel successful? What are your plans to get there?