In a recent conversation with a friend, the word ‘successful’ came up. Now, it is a rather overused word in professional contexts. It reminds me of a suited executive who spends majority of hours on an airplane, makes presentations in oak-paneled boardrooms, and is the muse for hundreds of elevator speeches.
But the use of this word in a personal conversation was so unique that I kept repeating it in my mind, as one does with a new word learnt. I had almost brushed it aside with a thought like, “No, thank you, success means happiness for me. Pursue happiness, not success.” And yet, the sincerity with which he had said it made me reconsider: How does success look, in a personal/ holistic space?
I tried thinking about areas where I consider myself successful, and where I admire others as successful, and sure enough, the common thread emerged. It turns out you can tell rather easily whether someone is successful: they are able to give.
I don’t mean this in any altruistic or moral way, but in the most objective way. You can only give when:
- You have something to give
- You feel you have enough
These are really two completely different things: which is why someone can be rich in a mud-house, and another still not rich enough in a mansion. This feeling of being enough, of having enough, is the closest I could define success.
How can you tell if someone is successful in their profession? If they are able to give back, by sharing their expertise with others, training new people, encouraging them.. or creating something that enriches people’s lives, or even just by giving credit to someone who has done something well. A lot of conventionally ‘successful’ people cannot find it in their heart to praise someone else’s work, because in their heart they still don’t feel they are enough. So everyone else is a threat. They live in constant insecurity. I am sure that’s not what success looks like.
How can you tell if someone is successful in their relationships? If they are able to give to others freely- their time, their affection, their forgiveness, their advise/ help…
Clearly ‘successful’ must be a term not just reserved for reaching a certain professional pinnacle. How can you tell if a home-maker is successful? Or your domestic help? Or someone just beginning their career? Or a child? I think I’ll be able to tell now 🙂