The Definition of Success

What is Success?

Last week I enjoyed an event that focused in on success.  Beyond being a great night it got me thinking… thinking about the individuality of the definition of success.  I generally live in my little bubble of what success is.  My mind sometimes travels to the fact that come see success as lots of money, a fancy car or maybe a new big house.  I guess I never pondered what my definition of success was, more than the fact that I don’t really care about having lots of money, fancy cars or big and fancy new houses.  I am more simple than that.  I would like to have enough dollars to pay my bills and enjoy adventures… I love that my Jeep is so freakin’ close to 150,000 miles and I want my someday house to have lots of patina and be smallish and comfortable.  I want people to just feel welcome to walk up and be a part of my home and life.

I was standing in my lovely black dress, my curled hair and my red lipstick, when an intern college student asked me “How do you define success?”.  It knocked my brain into a different set of thoughts.  I hadn’t ever thought of ‘My Definition of Success’.  It got me thinking…

As I listened to my friend, JoDee, speak about what success is to her I saw how different and similar our success goals are.  I bet many of us have different and similar definitions of success.  She spoke about success and what it is for her- her family.  The thing is it wasn’t like she got all corny about her success being that she HAS a family and is proud of them.  JoDee shared that her definition of success is that she builds her children to carry what she is teaching them, even if it is only a sliver of all the work she puts in.  Seeing her children grow to be confident, kind, helpful in their communities and carry the things she and her husband are teaching their children.  Success to her is what she is building in her people… that makes me smile.

I had the opportunity to think and answer that question that night.  I tried to get it all out while being recorded, but in true Erin form I talked A LOT.  I had a few key points I wanted to make in my many words recorded, I can only hope I made those points during my chatty moments.  I am sitting here reflecting and trying to think out my definition, my whole definition, of success.  I think I got it.

–          Get scared and Do.It.Anyway.  I used to let the scared allow me to say ‘No’.  I try to live past the scared and the NO.  I was terrified to speak in public before Madeline left us… but then I started to do it anyway.  I live for that scared now… I love overcoming it and sharing her and our journey.  I love the feeling of taking that scared and doing it…

–          Build others right along with yourself… success isn’t just building yourself but building around you too.  Success is all about building, we can’t be successful if we only build ourselves better.  I also know that building others is SUPER important.  In parenting I think this is a big one, when one of my daughters puts the other down the first thing I ask “Is that building or breaking?”.  We don’t break people, we build them.  I want them to carry that right with them, when they do well bring others along.

–          Be sure of yourself, even when you aren’t sure of yourself.  Confidence is a MUST… but sometimes you just have to fake it until it comes more naturally to you.  Remind yourself that you have so much to offer and listen to your confident self.  We each have important jobs while we are here on Earth, we have to be confident and brave enough to embrace them and build ourselves to do those jobs.  Remember it is HARD to be confident when we let ourselves be unsure- but do it anyway, remind yourself that you can do hard things.

–          Being honest and open, real in all of it- the broken and the building.  Success is inside of each of us, it is, in our own definitions, what we strive for while living on this Big Earth.  Working for this life goal requires you to be honest and real to ourselves and those around us- for authentic success.

–          Forgive your failures.  Life is hard, we fail… we let ourselves down, we let others down.  Walk on, chin up and do better- but let yourself off the hook.  You are right where you are supposed to be, at this very moment.  Let yourself grow and let your mistakes go.  We all make mistakes, accumulate failures… but we have an opportunity every single moment to choose to grow from it, build better and different.  Oh- and never forget what you learned from your mistakes and failures, how much easier this journey will be if you don’t repeat the mistake.

Success is all of that combined.

How will I know if I am successful?  I think success is something we should keep in our peripheral awareness all the time.  The challenges and experiences will be different at all different stages of life… it is important to keep up with our definitions of our success.  I look back and know that I have been doing the best I can in all those different stages of my life… sometimes there were many failures- I carry the lesson and forgive myself.  I see myself as successful right here and now… I parent the best I can, I try new things and get scared, I forgive myself and love myself always and anyway… I am lucky enough to see some of the gifts of my success.

The gifts of my success are plentiful, not in the way many would see.  My success doesn’t include a fancy car, bog house, lots of purses and well planned vacations… though my success is exactly right for me.  I have 3 girls, one of which just happens to be an angel… and I work and have worked my butt off to build them into strong and kind people.  Since one of my girls is an angel now the parenting work looks different, I share and advocate and support families because that is where Madeline guides me.  I have overcome many scary and unplanned life events… and I have found and built better.  I have learned to love myself even with all of my mistakes and failures.  I have said yes to so many adventures and scary opportunities; I have learned that I loved things I feared.  I love that feeling when you are so scared and shaky, so unsure… then you stand up and do it anyway.  I love that feeling of accomplishment… it makes me feel so confident and able.

When JoDee spoke at the Launch Party she spoke of her definition of success. I felt that our definitions overlap, even if we use different words to explain.  We both know that our success is very entwined with raising our children.  It is an amazing gift to see your child build others, take care of people and ‘hear’ those things you tried so hard to teach them.  I get that… our children carry our legacy… how the world will know us after our Earthly journey is done.  I think she has it spot on… that is such a valuable definition of success.

I am grateful for the gift that I gained that night… that bit of awareness that ‘My Success’ isn’t everyone’s success.  Sometimes we all need that reminder that what is going on in our own brains or lives isn’t the same as others… that there are plenty more definitions are more individual than we let ourselves know.

I would really enjoy reading what Success means to you… is it a car, a home, an adventure… family, accomplishments or something altogether more amazing to you?  Would ya, could ya… reply or comment what you think Success is in your journey on this great planet?



2 thoughts on “The Definition of Success

  1. What a beautiful definition of success! I think the biggest thing I’ve learned about success is there is no one definition- but we all want it. So, we need to celebrate those differences and help each other in our journey. I’m glad I could help Maddie’s Mark this past week. It made me very proud and humble to make an impact with my family right by my side!


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