If I ask you, “What does success mean to you?”, what would you say?
Most people answer this question by telling me about the goals that they hope to achieve in life. But what I really want to understand from them is how they relate to success.
Everybody wants to be successful.
At least, everyone I have ever met says that they want to be successful. But at the same time, we all know that not everyone finds success in life.
Often it is not the lack of effort, skill or motivation that holds people back but the relationship they have with their idea of success.
Take a moment right now to ask yourself how you feel when you think of success?
What images come to mind when you think of success? Maybe you see yourself in a fancy office or driving an expensive car? Or something else?
Do those images inspire you?
What emotions get generated in you? Do you feel apprehensive and doubtful? Or excited and powerful? Or bored and uninspired? Does your idea of success make you feel motivated and energised?
Do you see yourself welcoming your success with open arms or do you feel uncomfortable with it?
Your responses may vary depending on how you view your goals (achievable/not achievable), the stage of your progress ( near or far from the goal) and your experiences in life.
But if you find that you favourably relate to your definition of success, it multifold increases your chances of being successful because then you are committed to your goals both consciously and subconsciously.
On the other hand, if your idea of success makes you uncomfortable you may subconsciously avoid reaching your goals either by procrastinating or by self-sabotaging your success.
If you do not feel excited and empowered by the idea of being successful then it is important to explore your relationship with success.
There are many things that make people uncomfortable with their own vision of success:
- They are afraid of how it will impact their life. One very capable entrepreneur once told me that she knew she had the ability to grow her business multifold. But she was not comfortable with the idea of how it would impact her personal life. She was afraid of the publicity and media attention as well having to let go of her personal time.
- They are not connected to their goal: If you are not passionate about your goals or they don’t align with who you are as a person then you will feel a subconscious hesitance to pursue them. Often we end up with goals that we have been programmed to see as important. If the goals you are pursuing are not what you really want to be doing, your motivation to pursue those goals will be half-hearted.
- Their definition of success conflicts with their self-identity: If you do not see yourself as being the person you need to be to reach your goal you will feel demotivated. If this is the case it may require you to either work on your self-identity or come up with ways to achieve your goal within the limits of your current identity. A very strong example of this is Usha Uttapa who wanted to pursue her goal of becoming a western music singer but could not align with the identity of a typical pop singer. She found her space by singing western songs in a sari..definately a first.
- Their definition of success conflicts with their beliefs and values: Sometimes deep-seated beliefs get in the way of success as well. One of my clients had a belief that to run a business successfully you need to use “crooked” means. While he wanted to start a business the belief that doing business needs him to resort to unfair means and his value of being an ethical person got in the way. One he was able to get some proof that he could run his business successfully without being corrupt helped him get started on his business.
The love of what you do, combined with your belief in what you do, will not determine your success. It will determine how hard you will work and how dedicated you will be to achieving it. Success just shows up from there. Jeffrey Gitomer