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Insight Blog: What is Success?

March 2022

When it comes to success, many today can struggle with who they are and who they want to be.  I grew up in rural Nebraska.  For better or worse, the protestant work ethic was drilled into me.  If I worked hard, put in my time, then I could get ahead.  Competition was good and forced me to do better.  But this competitive model forced me to “play the game” and deal with the accompanying stress.  This approach also taught me a “me against them” mentality.  At times this model worked well and from a material perspective there was some success.  But having to out-perform everyone else in the room is not fulfilling.  I wasn’t happy with participating in the win–lose mindset.

Ultimately each of us must create our own definition of success.  Is it the accumulation of more possessions?  Maybe it is being able to travel and see the world.  Possibly it is being the CEO of a powerful corporation.  For some it can be family.  Like me, maybe you have chosen to climb the ladder of material success.  On the outside, these accomplishments appear to be success stories.  But in the end, there was a lack of real satisfaction.  Getting stuck in the thought, if only I can do a little better, then things will be great, was really a circle of insanity.  

For most of us, success is important.  I am not against anyone’s definition of success.  But problems arose when I used physical possessions to make me happy and whole.  This is often where I find others tend to struggle.  I know for myself, I believed if I made “X” amount of money, owned a certain quality house, and drove a certain brand of car that things would be great.  The problem was, yes, those things are nice, but they don’t bring me happiness.  So maybe if I belong to a particular country club, then I can be around other successful people and that will make me happy.  The reality was the more expensive things I purchased, the more I had to work to pay them off.  Ultimately, I lost myself in this unfulfilling cycle of just one more thing and then I’ll be happy.

Does my story sound familiar?  Ultimately after repeating this cycle for many years, I realized my model for success and happiness did not work.  I had to change my way of thinking if I wanted things to change.  Through a significant amount of self-growth and learning from others I found my answer to happiness lies within, not outside of me.  Learning what truly made me happy took time, and I am still learning.  Today I realize I need a reliable car, but the car isn’t going to make me feel successful.

In my practice I have the privilege of working with others who are learning to navigate their road to success.  In the 21st Century individuals are redefining what success means to them.  The rules have changed.  If true happiness comes from within, then looking within becomes the focus of contentment.  Becoming vulnerable and open is no longer considered a weakness, but a strength.  If you feel stuck in your present way of living, contact me.  I am here to help you find answers, allowing you to become successful in the ways that matter most to you.

Author: David Johnson