Success is a recurring theme in all my coaching sessions and we try to define what does success mean for each of my clients. The definition varies with the different professional and life stages, undergoes transformation along with us. If we remember what success meant to us after college and compare it to how we see success now – it may very well turn out the two definitions don’t have anything in common.
After graduating the American University in Bulgaria my success was dressed in a fine suit, wore high heels, managed a large group of people and had the confidence of a respected expert in her field. This image didn’t include state of mind, marital status, friends, leisure, meaning. It was straight out of a business magazine.
Since then, my definition of success is constantly evolving. Relationships, love, and life satisfaction were the first to have found their rightful place in it. Followed by a serious deviation from my original success definition – I realized I was not cut out for operational team management. My two kids completely ruined the picture-perfect image of what success was. Currently, my key word is balance.
This topic is exciting for me not only as a career coach, but also on a personal level, so I asked a few successful clients and friends to share their vision of success. I’ve received many diverse viewpoints, all inspiring and multi-layered. In this article, I will introduce you to two of the more detailed and in-depth reflections – the opinion of a successful corporate manager and the definition of a successful and recognizable entrepreneur. All the other viewpoints I will present in another article. I would love to hear your interpretations as well.
Kamen Kirilov, Business development director in the banking industry
For the most part of my conscious life, I have equated success with societal status – being part of a certain professional circle, looking serious, wearing a suit, making a lot of money and spending a lot of money – on travel and entertainment. When I was 20, this was how most of my friends and colleagues saw success. My definition changed through the years – the suit was gone, as well as the serious look, but the rest was pretty much the same.
I spent quite some time chasing this type of success before I realized that status is a side effect. What I know now and what I wish I’d known when I started my career is that success comes to people who take responsibility. You can be very intelligent and good at what you do, but you will not really grow until you take responsibility for results – be it revenue, sales, savings. That’s why my current definition of success includes someone who produces measurable results for the organization, for your family, and – why not – for the world.
I will never give up the Maldives, but now I know what comes first.
Success, much like happiness, proved to be more inner work than external possessions and accomplishments. I know quite a few people who have wonderful external achievements – career progression, successful projects, financial abundance. And no matter how much they achieve, the feeling of emptiness, frustration, and even failure is their constant companion. There is no end point, no final stage at which they can say – I am living my success story. And that’s great – someone would say – because this is the motivating factor to push forward to greater and greater accomplishments. This would have been fine if the sense of success wasn’t lacking. This constant strive to achieve more and more is not necessarily greed, it is the result of emotional deficits that push you to conquer more in order to fill them. The problem, however, is that the internal gaps are never successfully fulfilled by external possessions. Quite often the external goals are socially conditioned, don’t represent the person’s true calling or come out of his or her authentic self. And this – in turn – creates the vicious circle of: frustration – striving – achievement – dissatisfaction.
How to approach success, then? With purposeful, persistent, and patient work with your inner self. Release and heal your psycho-emotional traumas that have led to the vicious circle and you will hear the whispers of your true calling. Let go of the past models that make you feel insufficient when you do your own thing and not the thing expected of you. And then you reach the awareness. Awareness you not only mentally comprehend, but experience and validate with your body – I am sufficient as I am now. The extremely powerful moment, in which you realize – you are already successful.
With that realization you don’t chase the approval of others, because there are no others. Everything is, and has always been, between you and you. You know everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be. Will you be motivated to pursue new goals and achieve new heights? Yes, of course you will. Not only that, but when you are not driven by the feeling of emptiness and frustration, you will achieve your objectives and realize your potential with greater ease. The inner state of success will become richer and more powerful, confirming that success is a part of yourself. And you keep going or you rest, knowing that whatever you do or don’t do is determined by your inner definition of success.
Look out for the next success article with more interesting and provocative definitions.