“Are you successful?” I asked my client Kelly, an attorney from a large law firm.
“Who knows?” she retorted. “How am I supposed to know what you mean by successful?”
She was wildly uncomfortable with my question.
Did I mean the number of hours she billed? (Tons.)
The prestige of her firm? (High.)
How did she compare to her peers? (Well.)
Her salary? (Also high.)
I swear I wasn’t putting her on trial.
I hadn’t asked a trick question.
I just wanted to know if she considered herself successful.
“Not successful enough, I guess,” she said.
Kelly is most definitely not alone here. Many of us have this vague sense we’re not achieving or accomplishing enough. We operate from the foregone conclusion that we’re not quite measuring up.
We default to cultural definitions of success and use them to determine if we measure up.
Unfortunately, the world gauges success by some pretty shallow factors—wealth, social status, fame, credentials, titles, body shape, appearance, material possession, etc., etc.
The list is endless, but not very deep.
I’ve worked with some very credentialled, rich, and beautiful people— chiefs of medicine at the nation’s top academic hospitals, CEOs of profitable companies, thought-leaders in a variety of fields. To a person, they don’t think they’re successful enough.
They feel like they’re never quite “there”—wherever the hell “there” is.
The critical voice in their heads is always whispering, “You’re not enough.”
Kelly admitted most people would look at her silk-stocking law firm job, her big beautiful house, and her kids’ fancy private school and call her successful.
But she wasn’t buying it.
Someone else telling us we’re successful isn’t enough to prove it to us. It has to come from the inside out.
We have to decide and declare our own answer to the question, “What does success look like for ME?”
The good news? This gives us a MUCH more significant chance of succeeding in this life.
That’s where we start. What does success look like ME?
Answer that question. Then, read on for ideas on success.