Success is a personal journey that each one of us needs to define for ourselves. What success means to you might not be what it means to the next person.
In addition to that, people talk about success as if it were a destination, not a journey. In fact, they often talk about “arriving” when they discuss success. It is important to notice the significant difference.
Many people use societally-determined criteria to determine when they’ve “made it.” They think that if they “go for it” and not mess anything up along the way that eventually they’ll hit some sort of destination called success. The other misnomer is that once you have achieved “success” that you’re done. Of course, many people who arrive at “success” end up being totally dissatisfied. This often leads to feelings of emptiness and being unfulfilled.
I prefer to use the term flourishing, rather than success because to flourish is to constantly grow and expand. When you flourish, you constantly test your boundaries and limitations. Most importantly, instead of a static end point, flourishing is continually moving forward in a way that stretches and strengthens you.
To pursue flourishing rather than “success” will feel like a relief to most unconventional thinkers. We never could buy into or get excited about the narrow, restrictive, conventional, definitions of success. Unfortunately, because conventional success seemed so shallow and unattractive, many unconventional thinkers end up pursuing nothing at all.
Flourishing on the other hand is right up our alley. It encourages us to be the unique individuals we are, to strike out on our own paths. This is the only type of success we would be interested in pursuing.
Here are some ways to go about defining and creating your own definitions of success and flourishing as well as identifying the particular gifts you bring. To begin this process, think of five people that you consider successful. They can be living or dead, someone you know personally or someone you know about. Think about why you consider them successful. List the qualities and accomplishments of these people that impress you.
Next, list five people that the world may consider to be successful that you wouldn’t want to emulate. What qualities are they lacking? What qualities do they have that you don’t respect or like?
Now compare yourself to these two lists. This is not so much to judge yourself but to begin seeing the path you’ll want to take to become the flourishing person you want to be.