Success is a sexy word, isn’t it?
It’s also a very ’80s word for me.
It conjures up images of sports cars, upturned collars, swimming pools, and frankly – bad hair (think, Donald Trump).
I don’t long for any of those things (especially the bad hair).
I like reliable vehicles with low gas mileage and good tires. I like clothes that I don’t regret wearing when I see them in family photo montage. I like the ocean.
So, what is success anyway? Reaching a goal? Achieving fame and fortune? Getting healthy? Losing weight? And when do we know when we get there?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between success and failure this week because I caught myself saying, “I failed” a few times.
I failed to gain someone’s approval when I really wanted it. I failed at pretending not to care. I failed at being perfect. I failed at “doing it right.”
I was so quick to judge myself. It was easy to notice where I went wrong, where I failed, and how I should have done it better. It was easy to punish myself with those thoughts because I thought I deserved to be punished. I had failed, after all. I hadn’t reached my goal.
I guess, deep down, I believed that other people could define my success or failure. After all, other people give it to me when they pass me out of a class, give me money, praise me, and perhaps pave my way. It’s out of my control.
Or is it?
It all seems very black and white, when actually it’s just a matter of perspective
Here’s an example: What if you lost 40 pounds, but had another 60 to go before you reached your desired weight. Did you fail or succeed?
What if your writing was rejected over and over again by publishers and you were Ernest Hemingway or J.K. Rowling (both of whom experienced rejection). Would you give up?
What if you ran your first half-marathon and you didn’t win the race?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I choose to make my own definitions.
Failure is when I let other people define who I am and the value of my effort and contribution.
Success is when I show up. Me. The best of me. Again and again and again. And risk failure.