What success actually is and what it isn’t
we tend to talk a lot about success. But we never really talk about what success actually is. Like many others, I grew up equating success with money, status, fame, and power. And for many years, that was my definition of success, so I pursued just that. But over time my perception has changed. You see, success is a very personal thing. And you’ll understand what I mean after I tell you this story of two brothers. There were two brothers that grew up together, Mike and John. They lived pretty similar, normal, everyday lives. However, after graduating college, they went their separate ways. They both wanted to be successful, but each had a slightly different vision in mind about what that meant.
After college, Mike got a high-paying job as an investment banker. He decided this was the best path for him, as it would allow him to reach his version of success, which was: money, status, fame, and power. And over the years, Mike actually became one of the best-paid investment bankers. He got a lot of respect for his work and he was semi-famous in the investment community. And since Mike was making a ton of money, it allowed him to get a big fancy house and a nice sports car. You could say that Mike was very successful at what he did. But all this success came with a sacrifice. Mike’s work consumed almost 80 hours of his time per week. That meant he didn’t have time to go out and socialize, he didn’t have time for hobbies and he couldn’t find the time to acquire a loving partner. His job was stressful as he had to deal with difficult clients every single day.
And even when Mike finished his job for the day, he couldn’t relax when he got home, but instead was still thinking about work. He simply didn’t have the time nor energy to dedicate to anything else, but his job. But to reach this success, those were the necessary sacrifices that had to be made. And Mike considered them worth it. John had a different idea about what it meant to be successful. After graduating college, John didn’t pursue a high-paying job. Instead, he followed his passion, which was photography. He wasn’t making much money, in fact, he was barely getting by, living paycheck to paycheck. But while John wasn’t rich, nor famous, he had something else in abundance. And that is a lot of free time.
Because he worked as a free-lancer, he did a has to work long hours. He could choose how long he worked and John chose to work no more than 20 hours per week. This allowed him to spend his time on things that actually mattered to him. He had a big circle of friends and he enjoyed their company. He had a loving girlfriend who went on adventures with him and they regularly talked for hours and they were even planning on starting a family together. And more than anything, John loved to spend his time reading books which widened his worldview. Even though John wasn’t famous, didn’t have a big house nor a fancy car, he was happy with his job and his life overall. So who do you believe is more successful? Mike or John? If you were to ask Mike, he would say that he’s more accomplished than his brother. But if you were to ask John the same thing, he would say that he’s the one who’s more successful. Each one of us has a different vision of what success is.
To some people, it’s making a lot of money or being famous. To others, it’s having great relationships loads of free time. While we might believe that our version of success is the correct one, we need to consider that other people don’t share the same vision. Now if you were to ask me, I would say both Mike and John are successful. Success is setting a goal for yourself and reaching it, no matter what that goal is. That being said, you should never pursue someone else’s dream. Just because someone says that being a lawyer and having money is a success, it doesn’t mean you should pursue it. Your dreams should never be determined by what others think. Otherwise, you’ll live a highly disappointing life. So make sure whatever you’re aiming for is for yourself and not for the approval of others. You need to define what success is to you personally and then follow that path until you reach your goal. And that is true success. Thanks for reading.