October 21, 2008

Redefining Success

Do you worry about money, even when you have enough?

Are your personal values reflected in your business and financial values?

Do your relationships and regard for customers, clients, staff, colleagues, competitors and shareholders differ vastly from those with your friends and family?

Do you measure your success in terms of quantifiable attributes, be they wealth, fame, position, or material goods?

Are you aggressively competitive?

In my article, The Success Mess, I discussed the stress inherent in the quest for "success," as well as how to be present to the successes we all of us already enjoy.

Did you know that the first dictionary definition of success doesn't have anything to do with wealth or position? It's "the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors." So first of all, it's an end, it's over, you're done. (And, by the way, "prosperous" can mean wealthy, but it can also mean favorable, lucky, or auspicious.

So here's where we get into trouble: when we fail to feel complete and replete with our success. We always want more, more, more...and we're not okay with change (as in, recession and stock market corrections). Success is about termination (we did good!), but we want auspiciousness to last...and to increase. "Now" isn't good enough. What about tomorrow? What about ten years from now? What about retirement? What about legacy?

So think about your definition of success and see if it feels peaceful to you...especially if you are materially successful. Why do you pursue more? Are you afraid of the future? Do you feel lack in other areas of your life?

Consider this quote:

"Corporate success is no longer compromised by humility, surrender, and forgiveness. In today's business arena, success is now contingent on them." --Peter Amato

Why would that be? I posit that the drive to succeed, according to our definition of success, is a misguided search for wholeness. We think that financial security or abundance (meaning, having more than we need, since we always have exactly enough in the moment)--or owning nice things, expensive clothes, a big house, fancy cars, or being a stud with a hot sex partner, or being the most beautiful woman in town, or being revered or famous--will complete us. If we look outside ourselves for completion, we can never be complete.

If success is a favorable termination, can money ever be the end? We spend it, it's taxed, it gets stolen, the stock market does its thing, banks fail, emergencies arise that require more money.

Has power over others ever completed you?

Have you cleaned up your relationships yet, owned your part in conflicts and misunderstandings, made amends? Can any amount of "success" fill the emptiness left by separation from others?

Have you forgiven people for their mistakes? Have you forgiven yourself?

Here's how to redefine success: do The Work. Inquire into the thoughts that cause resentment and fear towards parent, sibling, child, partner, friend, pet, government, religion, sex, health, looks, career, public image and of course, money.

The success we are looking for is the end of suffering. It's what we want money, power, other people and things to give to us, and those "successes" can only be temporary and may not always be within our reach. Peace, however, is always available...and that's the favorable termination, the last story.

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

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