The process towards success isn't clear cut but generally, we assume, follows the path of "learn, work, develop, net-work, create, sacrifice, build, conquer, grow". All these key words are associated with "getting it right...making it". But there are a different set of words I attribute to success "mistake, loss, pain, learning, understanding, enlightenment, love, truth, acceptance".
My story, particularly of recent years, reads like a bad day time movie if told without the details- I am all too aware of this when I explain to new people why I am back in the town I was so desperate to run away from and why I have essentially started life over. I have not followed the script or the classic route, I have taken every cliched wrong turn. My story is still a tale of success though, as I believe most are when you take away the extra's, the set, the drama and the fluff - because what is at the core of success is self acceptance, self ownership and strength in adversity. How we manage to get there isn't the point, we get there if we try hard enough even if the "trying" looks like a big mess in motion. The fact is, no one knows what set's your heart on fire, bar the people close enough to witness it first hand when your bouncing and dancing with inspiration. No one knows what we may have overcome or what personal accomplishments we have in our pride bank; achievements that don't come with certificates or promotions. The journey towards success and ultimately fulfillment, is one so personal that we need to take away those words "growth, wealth, conquer, build" and remember there isn't a success scale society can affix to us, success is ours to measure and define. Destination success isn't map-able or measurable, so why are we told to race toward some unknown destination full speed as if we all know where we are going?
The influential and inspirational people who surround me are not typically "successful" - there are no trophy's in their cabinets, no investment portfolios to brag about, no double digit passport stamps or Range Rovers in the garage. The success stories I admire are those of strength, courage and kick ass ownership of self. On this "success list" is my mother, my sisters, old colleagues, my grandmother, people I have known only briefly and those I know like the back of my hand. Included are kids I went to school with I never classified as friends who now inspire me endlessly. Beside them are also the odd balls - the quirky people I may have known for a year or two but will never forget, their individuality imprinted in my memory with perfect clarity. The list of people who I look up to could fill pages. Sometimes I walk past a stranger on the street and am in awe of the class, the coolness, the sense of style that comes from the comfort of complete self acceptance. It is that 'hard to explain, impossible to ignore' energy that radiates from inner confidence and goodness, it belongs to the free spirits and the pure souls.
I have come to define my own success as simply owning who I am - taking responsibility for my choices, admitting my faults and celebrating my strengths. The people I look up to and admire are 100% themselves and I can't think of anything more important or successful than that. Saying loud and clear "this is me, this is what I like, this is what matters, these are my mistakes, my flaws and also my strengths and I am ok with all of it" - that is what the journey is about. The self improvement movement relies upon self doubt and the guise of "success" but that is a fickle journey devoid of a finish line; an empty quest, like trying to chase the horizon, we will never really get there.
Self improvement? Growth? Wealth? Number one? Boss? No thanks. Success is being exactly who you are in a world telling you to change; that is the goal, the holy grail, the only destination worth arriving at.