One of the many personal development topics people are curious about is success. But how do we define success? How is it measured? Do we need to redefine our concept of success to be successful?
Success is one of those popular, yet loosely-defined, personal development topics. Read on to ensure you’re successfully defining your success…
Many years ago when I completed graduate school I received as a gift a coffee mug with the following message: “As you climb the ladder of success/don’t let the boys look up your dress.” At the time this was somewhat provocative to me, since I seldom wore dresses. But I did come to appreciate a quote from another unknown writer: “As you climb the ladder of success, stop occasionally to move the ladder.” This meant something to me. It has been said that many climb the ladder of success only to find when they reach the top they have placed the ladder on the wrong ‘building’.
What constitutes success is seen differently by different people. The concept of success changes through the various stages of life. Children can experience success if they master certain tasks and make their parents and teachers happy. Adolescents often measure success by the degree of independence they have achieved and the number of friends they have. Young adulthood can present a crisis of confidence as the young person faces the wider world. During this period there is a change in what is thought of as success: money, job, education, relationships.
As we grow older the locus of success shifts from totally outside self to outside/inside self to almost totally inside. Our view of success grows and changes as we grow and change. Just as a snake sheds its skin to grow, we grow and change and our view of what success is has to grow and change along with us.
It is a gift if we can develop and thrive and view ourselves as successful. Those who cannot adapt, who remain rigid and frightened, suffer. Each developmental stage calls on us to redefine our vision and our definition of success. As long as we live, we have the opportunity to embrace transition and transformation as a measure of success. It is not easy. Some of us get stuck along the way.
Some of our ideas about what constitutes success are terribly skewed. But one element is constant: it is very personal and very subjective. For instance, some people find success in the small daily events of life; others in great public achievements. Some view success as mostly quantitative while others look for an inner reassuring feeling that they are on the right path; that their ‘ladder’ is propped on the ‘building’ that is right for them.
My views on success have changed over the years. Success no longer depends on job status, salary, or how well I’m liked. For me it now involves being the best person I can be with what I have, always reaching for the highest that is within me.
Success has to do with stretching myself and continuing to grow mentally and spiritually. I can still set goals and try to achieve them and I can change my goals if necessary. While I can’t predict success in reaching my goals, I can have confidence in them and trust the outcome. I do not have to be fearful. I can enjoy surprises and happy moments along the way as I become more and more aware that I am on a spiritual journey.
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