August 27, 2008

The Success Mess

Questioning the beliefs that hold me back has been key to all of the successes in my life, and not just in my business. Increased clientele and cash flow is just one aspect of success, and I've discovered that it's not the most important one. In the end, money alone can't guarantee happiness. Happiness to me is waking up in the morning excited about whatever lies ahead, knowing I'm in my integrity and progressing at exactly the right pace.

There was a time when I was earning six figures and felt like a failure. I would think thoughts like, "I'm not doing enough," "I should be further along than I am," "The future isn't secure," and "Advertising is dishonest." (Most inconvenient, that last one, as I was a direct-response copywriter.)

There are many coaching and self-help techniques that rely on positive visualization, affirmations, and "gremlin-slaying." There is a lot of emphasis on "just say no to negativity," and no attempt to understand where the negativity came from. I used these techniques for years without much movement; my material successes seemed to come and go, no thanks to how I attempted to dictate a life that fit my definition of successful. I also couldn't drop my self-limiting beliefs by trying to substitute them with "positive" ones.

With The Work of Byron Katie--a transformative process of inquiry that I have facilitated professionally since 2002--we don't worry about dissolving self-limiting beliefs; instead we identify and meet these beliefs with understanding. We enter the process, not to change anything (although change may indeed occur, and often swiftly), but to discover what's true for us.

As it turns out, self-limiting beliefs are lies. Stressful thoughts "quit" us when the mind calls its own bluff.

What we may not realize is how some "positive" beliefs are also stressful. Seeing yourself surrounded by riches is just "woman or man surrounded by riches." It's what we think having money and possessions and fame means, not the money, possessions and fame themselves, that turn us on...until they don't.

"I see myself driving an expensive car, living in a dessigner home, turning down speaking engagements, the author of six bestselling books, helping millions of people, traveling the world, always staying at the Ritz-Carlton club floor, with more money in the bank than I know what to do with, and beating Bill Gates at philanthropy." Sounds great, I'm not knocking it...and, can you know that this is what success looks like? Can you know that your life, as it is now, is not what success looks like?

Let's say you have openings in your schedule, and bills to pay. You do not have a car and driver. You haven't been written up in Forbes. You like the big house next door to yours better than your rented room. "I'm not a success now." Is that true? "I will be successful when I have those things." Can you really know that?

In visualizing yourself in the so-called successful life, are you living and working fully in the life you have now? Do you love your life or is it just a piece of driftwood to take you to the next "better" and "more successful" life?

I invite you to make a list of ten ways that you are a success, a huge success. If it's difficult to identify any successes, start with the simplest things: "I got out of bed today." "I didn't skip breakfast." "I was suicidal and didn't kill myself after all." "I took a walk in the sunshine." Keep going: "I raised my wonderful son all by myself." "I lost 10 pounds and kept it off." "I kept my last job for a whole six months." And keep going. "I helped children learn how to read in an after-school program." "My picture was in the paper." "I didn't beat myself up today." "I met my deadline for the project." "After three years, I took myself to the dentist and committed to treatment until my teeth are all fixed." "I was scared to be alone but I left my marriage." "I was scared to commit, but I worked through my fears and got married." "It was really hard to do it, but I stayed in my integrity and said no." "I said yes to something everyone said was too risky." "I built my business from the ground up." "I rebuilt my business after it failed." "I stopped beating a dead horse and got out of my old line of work." "I got a new client this week" "My one and only client all month was very happy with my work and will give me a good recommendation."

When we apply the simple process of inquiry to thoughts around success, breakthrough results occur naturally. A questioned mind is always more creative, more efficient, more appreciative of what is; there is no limit to the success it enjoys.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Jon said...

Hey Carol,

You might like this - a quote from 'Cool Runnings', a comedy inspired by the Jamaican bob-sled team that entered the Olympics.

It's the night before the main event and the coach and lead driver are talking about the coach having won a gold medal before, then cheating to try and win another.

He shares what he has discovered:

"A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you're not enough without it, you're not enough with it."

Seems the same for any success-based thing.

With love and thanks,


Marianne said...

I love what you wrote Carol...I have never thought about success in this way before. I remember in therapy 15 years ago reading a book called "Feel the fear and do it anyway"...and I always wondered to myself...okay I feel the fear and do it anyway ~ What's the freaking point!???? ~ now I know! Success.

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Jon: You're right, I like it!

Marianne: Yup. We do what we do, and the success seems to be in letting it be done.

anewman102 said...

Staying at the Ritz-Carlton Club Level is fun, but I liked it a lot more when I didn't need it to tell me who I was.