I’ve floated the title of my book “Chasing Success” past many, many different people over the last couple of years. Most, if not all loved the title.
Interestingly enough almost immediately after the magic of my nifty title is worn away the next question out of people’s mouths invariably is, “Neil, what is your definition of success?”
I usually grin impishly and reply, “What if I don’t have one?” and then quickly respond with the following statement, “What if what I define as success doesn’t matter? Because each individual reading this book will define success in their personal own way.
“As little children we know how to live in the moment and be completely authentic. But then something damaging happens to us, according to author Don Miguel Ruiz: we are given “knowledge” about how to live in the world. Parents tell us how to behave in order to be a “good” boy or girl. Teachers tell us what it takes to be a “winner” or a “successful” adult. This collective “voice of knowledge” is not only false–it is often poisonous, explains Ruiz, bestselling author of The Four Agreements.
This set of collective “knowledge” is based on our geographical, political, social and economic upbringing. This “knowledge” is what binds us as a tribe, community, city or country.
In today’s western society, our shared knowledge or belief system provides us with a common definition of success and for many it is portrayed solely in an economic sense. Fortune, capital, seniority and respect are some of the aspirations among men, women and children in North America have historically strived for. These goals can be linked to the American Dream – traditional social ideals, such as equality, democracy and material prosperity.
In your current mind set you may not believe in the American Dream, but you definitely know about it because it is rampant it is everywhere; mainstream advertising, television shows even our education system. If you were born in North America I suspect at one time you may have even strived to achieve them for yourself. Things like, “Get a good education so you can get a good job. There is no money in the arts, so don’t be a dancer, painter etc. Or you need to settle down, buy a house and have a couple of kids.”
As a side note I recently did an informal poll on Facebook® and every one of my friends answered more or less the same. That could be because I have attracted a tribe of friends with common set of thoughts or beliefs. Or this particular group of friends could actually make up a subset of minds that believe in values that are outside what is held as western society’s way of being.
For me, success has no single defining point of reference. It has to do with choices. My choice to be happy. My choice to do or say something that makes someone else happy. My choice that ‘good enough’ is not an option. I don’t feel that success is something that happens; rather it is something we choose. Too many people define success through others’ eyes and miss celebrating all the little successes. Remembering to be grateful, for me at least, seems to bring about an elevated feeling of successfulness.
Success comes in so many ways. Good health, sharing a smile that someone lit up from, sharing a kind word, building a dream. Success is when we learn or achieve something due to taking the steps and do the work for the dream to come to. Success is learning to live in balance while we travel, work or taking a break.
Feeling like I’m happily living my life.
Peace in all circumstances. That inner peace that tells you that you are aligned with your inner moral compass. That path may be fraught with challenges, and that is okay, but you are in the end; most at peace within. And happy to be in your own company.
Vince Vin-Zen Wishart
Happy joyous and free…full of gratitude
Good signs are paint under my fingernails…sand in my toes…my beloved by my side. ..Grandkids by my side…in a forest or beach.
So why did I title the book “Chasing Success”? That’s a very good question.
There is a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I have to agree that this is indeed the case, particularly for the so – called ‘Normal’ people.
I believe that being ‘Normal’ can be dangerous, even fatal for a person’s spiritual / emotional / physical human well-being. I am almost certain that most ‘Normal’ people sleep their way through life, by being too fearful of being different, and then one day wake up in their own self-created hell, wondering how they got there and desperately wanting to change it. Unfortunately for many, this epiphany or life altering moment occurs on their deathbed.
Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.
-Wrongly attributed to Benjamin Franklin by many
Since many people are not actually able to cheat death. This epiphany sadly comes a little late for most, a sad but ‘Normal” truth.
It is also probably safe to say that ‘Normal’ people believe that as long as they live a ‘decent’ life, and don’t hurt anyone, they will be ‘OK’ and things will turn out ‘OK’. Truth be told this is a great thing to desire
But, let’s face it at some level most ‘Normal’ people have a secret fantasy or a deep-seated desire to be rich, famous or just a make a difference in the world or in someone’s life. Most ‘Normal’ people (but not all) want to excel or rise above the rest of the crowd in something, anything! It could be in: sports; music; scholastically; as a fashion model; financially free; or be the one to finally cure cancer; or be an international bestselling author – like me; or excel in the arts – not like me. Everyone’s dreams are different but we all have dreams and desires.
Okay, let me rephrase this, “Everyone has had dreams” at some point in their life. I have found that one of life’s biggest problem for being ‘Normal’ is that most ‘Normal’ people have had their dreams squashed or ridiculed right out of them.
Right from a very young age we have been conditioned to follow the actions of the pack. If we vary even the slightest from the path of ‘Normal’ societal pressures quickly bring us into line to ensure we are all “Normal’.
Most successful people endure the pressures of society and wander off the beaten pack. Using an Olympic athlete as an example, in a lot of cases wake up very early train for hours at a time, spend very little time doing normal things like hanging out at the mall with friends.
One of the main problem with ‘Normal’ is that they spent their whole lives pursuing the wrong things, which in turn prevents them from understanding their existence and understanding the value of the life that they had been gifted with.
So instead of being part of the highly successful 1% to 3 % of the population most of the North American society seems to be content with being ‘Normal’ or as some people refer to it as just, “AVERAGE”.
From my point of view the trouble with being normal or average… Is it is just that! You are Normal or Average!