At one point or another, we think about success, about how “successful” we are in our lives or endeavors. The problem with measuring success is that we usually measure it against an ideal set up by society or against the success of others in our circle or people whom we admire and consider successful. It is no surprise that most people would consider themselves unsuccessful and may feel a bit discouraged or sad about their stagnant lives or careers. Little do we know that we are looking in the wrong direction and we are using the wrong measuring stick.
The question is, if we want to be successful (success is defined here as feeling realized and whole) why are we looking outwards when we should be looking inwards? Why use the success of others as a measuring stick when we are our own “self” with unique dreams and goals, feelings about those dreams and goals, and a sense of where we want to be, whether clear or not at the moment.
Maybe it is that we are taught (since early age) to look at role models not so much in admiration but as imitation. When we are asked the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” we are being asked, “who do you want to be like?” If we happen to give the wrong answer, our parents or caretakers will offer a better suggestion – “why not becoming a – fill the blank – instead?” And the quest for success starts.
I think that society needs role models, but not at the expense of creativity and individuality. Role models fuel dreams, mentors inspire. All that is good; however, it is sad that today we look to Hollywood to find role models, when we might have one in our backyards (and that is not to say that there aren’t any role models in Hollywood, because there are). Without sounding preachy, let’s go back to the topic of success and why it may seem so elusive.
“Why don’t I feel successful?” This is a good question to ask ourselves. It focuses on the individual and his/her feelings, which is an inward point of view. The minute we focus our answer outwards, there lies the problem (the culprit). A possible answer could be – “Because I have not found an agent or a publisher yet” or “Because I don’t have much money” or “Because my art is not selling well enough” or “Because I am no Stephenie Meyer or Bill Gates” and it could go on and on … These are examples of answers that point outwards and offer the wrong measuring stick. The feelings of inadequacy that you might be experiencing may not be yours at all but rooted into the illusion of becoming like someone else, and that in itself is denying your own individuality (in a sense). And this is why success is so elusive for most of us – because looking inwards is not that easy, and it is not what we were taught as we grew up.
So today, look inwards, take account of all your efforts, and see how far you have come, and celebrate that. It is the first step to feeling successful and capturing the elusive butterfly. Greatness comes from within and it becomes when it is directed to the service of others.