Redefining success once more

Last month I blogged about redefining success, explaining that true success comes from happiness rather than the health of our bank balance or our career. Elements that I had not considered and can now recognise as a very important aspects of success are relationships and personal goals.

Strayer University is petitioning for changing the dictionary definition of success, namely that of the Merriam-Webster. The dictionary's current definition is as follows:
noun suc·cess \sək-ˈses\ The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
As you can see, this is very much about earning money and being esteemed highly by others. The new definition the university is proposing is:
noun suc·cess \sək-ˈses\ Happiness derived from good relationships and achieving personal goals
It is, by this definition, more orientated towards personal fulfilment and a life in which we have positive and healthy relationships with the people with whom we surround ourselves.

It can be easy to consider ourselves a failure for having employment that leaves us in real difficulty to make ends meet month in month out, or for not having that dream job, or perhaps not having a role which sounds impressive to others. Or maybe we deem ourselves unsuccessful because we compare ourselves to others and conclude that we full short of their glory.

However, if success comes from happiness why can it not be about all of the other elements in our lives such as how we are as a parent/partner/sibling and all of the activities we are doing to enrich our lives outside of work? A powerful idea isn't it? That means that success is entirely in our hands, is derived internally and is a perceptive and emotional thing rather than something that is external, requires recognition and has to be strictly measured on a balance scale against everyone else.

If you were to right now without hesitation, rate yourself on a success scale of zero to ten, with one being the most successful you can possibly be and zero being a complete failure, what number would it be?

Now take a look at why you gave yourself that figure, and consider whether it is a true reflection of every aspect of your life. Then perhaps take a further step back and consider what number your loved ones would assign you, and why. The difference between the two may surprise you.

I will leave you with this thought-provoking little video of a social experiment in which people rated their own success, and then their loved ones did the same. It certainly made me reconsider where I fall on the scale. It actually had be in tears because of how hard I have been on myself recently.


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