My wife and I have a daughter that moved out of our house a few years ago to take a job about an hour from us. She works with her favorite thing on earth, cows, every day. She gives tours to classrooms of students and visitors daily, providing her with the opportunity to share her love for the dairy industry with others. She also runs the farm's social media accounts, allowing her to share her passion beyond the walls of their barns. She absolutely loves what she does every day.
Our son is a freshman in college, living his dream of playing college basketball. He gets up every morning, goes to the gym, goes to class, and goes back to the gym. He has coaches, managers, and teammates that share his love for the game. He studies film, invests consistently in his development, and pours into the team and teammates every day in practice. He loves every sweet drenched second of it.
My wife and I are extremely grateful for the opportunities both of our kids have been blessed with. We certainly recognize how fortunate they are.
As well as things are going for them, it doesn’t equal success.
Why Should We Care?
Society is full of people jumping at the chance to show you their success.
It's easy to do - just present a life others want.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve positively impacted others, grown as a result of the process, have a feeling of fulfillment … No, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we present a life others think is successful.
We all know what it looks like: clothes, cars, and houses that we can’t afford; vacations, trips, and parties that we can’t support; relationships, careers, and titles that stir no emotion in us. In the pursuit of this artificial success we don’t become successful, we become posers of success.
We present the life we think others want without ever considering what we want. When we really think about it, they rarely align.
Not too long ago I overheard an older gentleman put success in perspective for me yet again. He was sharing a conversation with a friend at a nearby table. As their conversation turned to the topic of success, I quietly leaned in. His friend talked about many of his accomplishments, earnings, and possessions. The older man didn’t acknowledge any of them. When his friend had finished, he simply said, “Success isn’t any of that stuff. Success is your kids wanting to spend time with you when they don’t have to.”
I was reminded of this while sitting in the lobby of a hotel on the campus of our son’s college laughing and playing Uno with my wife, daughter, and son.
We were together.
And, if that’s not what success feels like, I’m not sure I want it.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
The real question for us as leaders is: what does success actually look like? We’re great at answering that question from another person’s perspective, but not so good at honestly answering it for ourselves. Here are a few questions that will help you drill down to what truly matters to you.
Success is a process, therefore it is not a destination. It can't be attained, so trying to “get” it is a senseless act. We can, however, experience success. And, it’s those experiences that make our lives complete.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.