I was hiking with my wife by a lake. We stopped for a moment, and the wind started blowing harder than before. Massive clouds appeared on the edge of the horizon. We both found a park bench and sat for a while, watching the scene unfold.
I had an amazing thought that day about success.
A few years ago, I wrote about how most of us define success in the wrong way. We think it's about money or climbing the corporate ladder. The truth is, that kind of success is always elusive. Think about someone like Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork. His company reported losses of $900 million recently and he has now stepped down.
Yet, he's also a billionaire.
When we define success according to the ledger in our bank account, or how many cars we own, or how many people work for us in a consulting company, it will always feel out of reach. Even those who appear to have the most success might be churning inside--broken relationships, missed opportunities with their kids, a failed personal endeavor.
I've been there. I used to think to achieve more at work and being recognized for my accomplishments was the best way to define success, and there were times when that was my primary goal--my own advancement. I've learned a lot about finding contentment, and my new definition of success has more to do with showing empathy to others.
You can't find something you don't define properly. Define success as achieving more or a certain amount of money and you will likely never find it. Even if you do, you won't feel fulfilled or satisfied. The simple reason you might not be finding success in life is that you have defined it as money or a position at a company or recognition for your achievements. It's always one step away because you define it as being more and more.
In the quiet moments of the morning--before you start your daily commute and before the boss starts barking at you about a project--set aside some personal time and redefine how you view personal success on a daily basis. That day at the lake I described above was so profound for me because it was like time stopped for a few minutes to remind me about how to define success, and I've been working on redefining it ever since.
I'm alive. I can feel the wind. My wife of 31 years is happy. We're walking the dog and watching the clouds. That to me is a better definition of success. We're not striving toward something, we are present and in the moment. We're casting aside the failures we've both experienced and choosing to define success as being focused on others.
We're ready to embrace this new definition, and it might mean we'll end up making some radical changes. Money won't matter as much. For those who have raked in loads of money and watched your bank account fill to the brim, and then bought a new car or a new house, you already know it doesn't really help you feel that successful in the long run.
Our new approach? Time is more important. How we use the time we have, that is the best definition of success. And the new definition starts right now for us.
Will you start redefining success as well?