Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

Your Definition of Success is Too Narrow

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Yesterday, my friend Matt Cheuvront posted an "inspiring" video. While the dedication of the student athlete and his physical prowess is admirable, the speech in the video is less than helpful. The story of the young man and the guru is told (which I've written about before) and then the speaker encourages his listeners that in order to be successful, they must want that success more than parties, sleep, or TV. I can surely appreciate the sentiment. I am a big believer that often what stands in the way of us achieving a dream is the 30 minutes lost to a sitcom rerun or the discipline of rising early to carve out time to work on something that matters.

But, where I draw the line is at the notion that success is equal to income. As the speaker in this video articulates with the examples he uses, one will only be deemed successful when they forget to sleep because they are earning wads of money.

That notion of success is too narrow.

Any definition of success that does not include an appropriate valuing of human relationships is garbage and should be thrown out like the trash it is.

Are parties not as important as succeeding, as the speaker suggests? Maybe. But skip every party you're asked to and soon your friends will stop inviting you, no matter how many awards you win. Is money nice to have? Certainly. But it's no fun if you can't spend it on those you love because your life is absent of any significant relationship.

Check out the top five regrets of people on their deathbed. Do you know what you won't find? The lament that they didn't listen to the guru enough and spent more time working.

Screw the definitions of success that are dictated by dollar signs. I say work your crappy, unexciting job if it means you make enough to spend on those you love while spending quality time with them, too. Chances are good that the people who care about you the most don't give a rip what title is printed on your business card (I bet they've never seen your business card). Instead, they want to know that you'll be at dinner, at the dance recital, and at the beach with them next summer. They want you there at bath time, bedtime, and story time.

And if you want success money more than you want relationships, then chances are good you're headed for personal failure. You fail when your life is full of regret. And the best way to live a life as free of regret as possible is to take it easy once in a while. Or a lot of once in a whiles, especially if it means you can sleep late next to someone you love, party hard with lifelong friends, or teach your child how to kick back and do nothing at all.

Don't believe motivational speakers when they tell you that you have to ignore everything else to be successful. They're peddling a lie. Instead, believe your family when they say they want to see you more often.

Go home, take a walk with them at sunset, and breathe deeply knowing that at that moment, you are the most successful person in the world, doing the only thing that matters right then.

What is your definition of success?

Photo credit