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What is your definition of success?

“Success is a process not an event.”
~ Gary Halbert

January 7, 2021.

“I wish you a lot of success this year!”

This is what we say to each other every New Year, don’t we? But what is the meaning that we enclose in this word?

When was the last time you have said out loud what the word “success” means to you?

Today, I want to meditate on this word and share some thoughts with you.

So this is what I have been thinking.

Success is what is happening right here right now.

Being successful means being able to ground yourself in this very moment doing the things that bring you joy and meaning — things that support your long-term vision of your future self.

Success is not that will come to you “one day…”

There is no other time.

There are no tomorrows, no yesterdays.
We are always here, contained in this very moment.

You are this very moment if you will. You are the point at which past and future come together to hold hands. And what you do with this present moment is your success.

Take me for example.

I am writing at the moment and this is my success.

There are 3 reasons why I can perceive myself as being successful.

First of all, I can write, meaning I am physically capable of writing. I was born in a healthy body with a healthy brain that is surprisingly adept at amusing itself with the thoughts it can generate. What is this if not a blessing? I see being able to write as a privilege, but I know that not many people would see it the same way.

Secondly, my writing supports my vision. I want to be a master-communicator.

Everyone who has ever learned a second language knows that once you start learning another language, you never stop. There is no limitation to your mastery. At some point, you realize that if you continue learning you can actually become really really good. Once you start noticing that your communication skills have surpassed those of some native speakers, you realize that even the highest levels of proficiency are within your reach.

But why would one want to be a master of a word?

Why?

Because it is the word that makes things happen.

Hard skills might make you a top specialist. Soft skills will get you a job.

And we all know which soft skill is the most valuable skill of all — Communication.

Sales, marketing, supply chain, accounting, finance, HR, PR — every branch of business relies on communication. Communication can make or break a business. It can also make or break a relationship.

Dig deeper, and you will probably agree that the quality of our life is the quality of our relationships. The quality of our relationships is the quality of our communication.

For me, mastery of verbal and written communication is the mastery of life.

Take networking as an example. Networking is not about you, it is about the way you make people feel. Words are the tools you use to interact with other beings and evoke emotions in them.

Education? You can teach better and faster and ensure higher retention if you are an effective communicator.

Any form of audience-building or online influence? Communication is at its heart.

Lastly, above all other things, I love writing. Writing is thinking on paper. It is deconstructing your mind to see how it works. It is an instrument of making difference. Who knows? Maybe some of the words I put out there, someone needs to hear right now or at another point in space and time.

This is my success.

  • Being in the present moment.

As I am typing these words my wife is practicing the flute in the next room (she is a professional flutist).

Every day she locks herself in her room for several hours to work on her craft.

Sometimes I can hear how she talks to herself, yells, swears, and screams in rage and frustration.

But this is her success.

Sometimes she complains to me how hard the path of a classical musician is. But we talk and I remind her that there are millions of people in South Korea who would kill for an opportunity to live in Canada, let alone to get a shot at obtaining a degree in North America.

She listens and she understands. (It is not like my words really calm down her storm, they just balance her a little 😁)

If you are in an occupation that requires constant practice you know what the flow state feels like.

This is a success.

Being in the zone, forgetting about the time, doing something you love knowing that this something is making you better every day. Experiencing the Compound Effect. Having the internal confirmation of your growth. Isn’t that a beautiful feeling? I know it is and the only place where it can happen is the present moment.

You know, it’s funny. But even taking a nap during the day is a success. 😴
You prioritize self-care, you let your body rest and repair itself, you slow down the aging and eliminate the stress that comes from living, you celebrate your body.

Sleep has all elements of success.

  1. We all love to sleep.

Anyway…

Let’s stop for a moment and meditate on what we are chasing.

Many of us want to “keep up with the Joneses”. A bigger house, a better car, a new flashy gadget, more money. But is it how you define your success or can you do better?

Being in the moment. Doing what’s important to you.

What more do you need to feel successful?

Thoroughly examine if you are being affected by the impositions of the external world.

Define what success means for you and you alone and then go to that place.

I often recall in my mind one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Your destiny stems from your vision.

Your vision must be supported by your daily successes — things that you do on a daily basis that will get you to the variation of reality you want to explore.

How do we get there?

“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown. If you haven’t already checked this book, please do or read this summary by Sam Thomas Davies if you want to save time.

In a nutshell,

“Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

Put it simply, we can’t do it all.

We must pick a set of 3 to 5 key success-activities around which we will structure our day. But first, we must understand what are those activities.

These days I am re-reading “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. One line from the book always hits home for me:

“How will you know when you’ve had enough, when you’ve reached your goal, when you’ve gotten off track, if you’ve never defined what those things are?”
~ Ryan Holiday, “The Daily Stoic”.

Our system of definitions drives our system of activities. Our activities propel us to our vision.

Among all other definitions, the definition of success is central in our maps.

We crave success and this fascinating race mesmerizes us. We dream about the future in which we are rich, strong, and beautiful. But stop for a moment and ask yourself. Maybe what is happening right now is what people call “the good ol’days?” We might just miss our success if the future remains the only place where we look for it.

So, I’ll leave you here, finishing writing these words, being in the present moment, doing the things I love, supporting my vision of the future self.

Wishing you a lot of success this year 😉

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