By what standard are you measuring success?
There was a time in my life where I was living my greatest potential totally unfulfilled simply by letting others define what success meant for me. Back then, when I looked around at my peers, I saw brilliant people who were doing amazing things and making tons of money, bankers, lawyers, blossoming corporate champions, entrepreneurs…people doing what society expects and getting all the honour and respect. Starting school all over again from year one after losing it earlier in my final year was challenging and intimidating. Even my younger ones were ahead of me academically. Friends and class mates who didn’t have any issues in their academics had moved on to get some of the best jobs, and some had started thriving businesses. I began to make efforts to quickly succeed; and before I knew it, I had allowed it become a measure of my worth. All of a sudden, I began to feel the urgency to do well instead of the need to do well. They are different. The urgency to do well is always unhealthy and negative because it always comes from envy, jealousy or low self-esteem. It always come from a self-comparison with others that ignores our own peculiar circumstance and instead focuses on that of others. The need to do well comes from a personal recognition of one’s unique purpose, with a clear understanding of the value we will add to the world when that purpose is served and lived out.
So, for a very long time, I tried to define my own success by comparing myself to others. I tried to define my own success by trying to conform to society’s expectations and standards. It was a terrible time for my mind but I didn’t even know. Those standards were telling me the kind of person to marry, the kind of business to start and the kind of office to have, the kind of place to stay, the kind of certifications to have, the kind of career to build, the kind of fashion to maintain, the kind of car to drive, the kind of places to go, and many more. Before I knew it, all of these became a measure of my worth. These were self-imposed tests and standards that I wasn’t even aware of while they were happening. These things happen in your sub-conscious. They go on right in there in your mind and your head, and there’s already a kind of hypnotism that prevents most people from having honest self-evaluations. This creates an unhealthy mental posture that helps people easily live in denial.
I always make bold to say that I went through years of experimentation and self-doubt in order to cultivate the resolve, conviction and assurance of purpose that I now have about my journey. And honestly, while I find immense value in different perspectives about the unique journeys of others, I also know that I have my own unique journey, and it is my duty to always put it in perspective, and fight to protect it from any wrong influence or adulteration of any kind. The most important step for me was finally becoming aware that I was making comparisons. In itself, that is a great victory. Most people will live out their existence without coming to that level of awareness. As soon as that awareness came, every moment from then on till date is about the creation and defence of my own unique measure of success.
Let’s start with you now. If you say you are not doing well, how do you know? By what standards would you measure that? In your life are you making these damaging and unnecessary comparisons? It may be something as unnoticeable as a subconscious compulsion, urge and drive to get promoted, to get another degree, to travel abroad for summer or to have a collection of artificial hair and be able to wear different ones daily. It could just be this driving force that pushes you to be more, in some way, than you are now. Whatever your striving for validation looks like, first be comforted by the fact that most of the people you know, and most of the people you compare yourself to are also suffering from the same thing, seeking to meet some kind of standard someone else set for them without the knowledge and consent of both the setter and the person it was set for. The way to get out of this rut is hidden in one simple question: How Do You Define Success? Ask yourself, “What does success mean to me?” Have you ever honestly asked yourself this question? Or have you simply adopted your priorities from everyone around you? Most people have done just that and are not crystal clear on what success means to them? Are you crystal clear on what success means to you? The way to begin is to know what success is about. What has happened is that our history and negative experiences as Africans, has wrongly defined success as the pursuit of personal comfort.
There’s popular success and there is true success. They are different. Popular success is material strength and prosperity for its owners. Popular success teaches that comfort and convenience are victory signs for yourself over those who observe you. It is actually the weakest expression of self. True success is first of all, the ability of the human life to gain superior control over his or her spirit, soul and body; and to use that control to bring deep love, joy, peace and fulfillment to the world he or she can influence. Popular success is achievement by the standard of others, especially that of society. But truer success is living the kind of life society can be grateful for. True success happens in the heart. For example, is your success helping young girls or sleeping with them? With this definition, you understand straight away that success is not an event, it is not a destination either, but it is a lifestyle. It is what you do every day of your life regardless of your circumstances. Whatever your measure of success is, can society be grateful for it? Can your area of influence be grateful that you are successful? The point is that you get to understand what success is, and choose how you engage it for yourself but in a way the world can be better for. You have to define it. Live by it. Sustain it. Protect it and Share it. Your comment is important here. GO!