Defining Success

Defining Success

Today’s post inspiration comes from a colleague in my network who posed a question in an entrepreneur Facebook group. It was a great question! And after thinking about it, I realized my definition has a BIG impact on my practice and my clients. The question: What is your definition of success?

Ok, buckle up…!

My experience in coaching, managing, and teaching people for over 2 decades, with varying degrees of each in different roles, has been both an honour and privilege. While I believe there is room to debate the definition of success, I can tell you that the way that you define it can drive significant misery or joy, and health or dis-ease in your life.

Most often, I hear people speak of success in relation to achievement and that is understandable. Doing and achieving is ingrained in many of us, and a deeply held cultural belief .  Doing and accomplishing can bring good things, including securing survival needs, like establishing safe housing and food. And what wonders have been created by goals and good work?! I am a huge cycling fan and I marvel at many incredible feats in racing, but truly, there are many staggering accomplishments from all facets of the human experience.

As a coach and someone who helps people on their journey to considerable lifestyle and nutrition changes, I also see how the production based definition of success is a double-edged sword. Overworking, stressing, comparison, fear of failure…. They take their toll. And what happens when we are not producing according to our beliefs? It turns out, we can make some pretty messy and counterproductive neurochemistry and hormones. Depending on many factors, this will drive or diminish motivation, and influence our perception of effort. It can impact self worth, energy, and behavior.  Regardless of the direction, feeling unsuccessful can be a rough experience, and it does not have to be.

Over the course of working with many people, and after a lot of study in all things behaviour, motivation and coaching – from neuroscience to spiritual traditions, meditation, observation and reflection, here is where I have landed when it comes to success… It will not resonate with everyone and that is ok. It may change for me someday, and that is ok too. But here is the definition of success that I have currently settled on at the heart level:

Success is all at once an intention, an allowing, a collaboration, and an alignment. It is a moment-to-moment, emergent state; An amplification and reflection of our interior empire when we are in alignment with our deeply held values, creating ripples in, and synergizing with the web of creation through our interconnection.

Many of the goals, steps, and milestones we plan will undoubtedly fail or change as we grow; overturned as our interests, experience, learning, and skills, challenge and reshape our beliefs, and as we create synergies within the web. This type of adjustment is an important aspect of growth.

But when our reality truly reflects our core values back to us, the details and steps taken to reach that state can be likened to the vascular projections of an aligned heart, mind and spirit, pumping into and back from all creation.

As an emergent state, no one point, person or event is more important than another. Success is not the end point of doing. It is the launchpad of creation.  To define success as an endpoint or achievement, is to restrict it by context and makes it contingent on beliefs. When we get stuck in if/then thinking, saying to ourselves things like “when that, then this”, we will spend a great deal of time being unsuccessful!

Achievements are defined by our beliefs which are contextual and based on stories from the past. They can be wonderful and satisfying experiences, valuable even, but success cannot be defined by them. By that measure, we would always be more, or less successful. Success is about values, which are enduring.

When a client first comes to me, I see them as already successful! I remind them of it. Reaching for support and information, asking for accountability, are all ways of reflecting their values back to themselves, whether it is health, or honouring their mind, body, spirit, and emotions (the 4 pillars), or living well to experience the best life.

In some traditions this is called “seeing the healed outcome” always according to their vision, and always “this or something better” (let’s not be limited by imagination!).  

Seeing the state of success in ourselves and others, influences our work and interactions at a deep level and nourishes us for our work. Modern research into mirror neurons and the electromagnetic fields of emotions is fascinating and supports the importance of supporting others in this way.

When the state of success precedes endeavor, that is when the magic happens! Then, we can work on filling in the goals and actions you want to achieve!

So remember, when we are living our values and our authenticity and in collaboration with our connections, we become success, and our desired goals and actions can follow.

Of course, this is my definition of success. Spend time with this. Spend time with what the masters say and with yourself. Determining your values, and your goal posts for success are part of your mighty mission.

Until next time, be well and nourish yourself.


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