4 min read

Why is Being Successful Important to You?

Why is Being Successful Important to You?
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo / Unsplash

What is "success" to you, anyway?

Yeeesh. We should probably know this stuff, right? Like, we should have figured this shit out a long time ago, before any of these "entrepreneurial" moves. Before quitting jobs, before changing career paths over and over. Before enduring painful spirals of self doubt and feelings of worthlessness over and over. By we, I suppose I mean I. So, let's go through it.

I have felt/known for a long time that I am not like most people. Clocking in at a regular 9 to 5 day in and day out at some mid-level job, working for the weekend, and just being happy with that has never been on the menu for me. Why?

Sometimes I fantasize about being happy with a regular job, working for the weekends, just waiting to hit a six pack on Friday night like an Eric Church song.

Sometimes I wish I could be so entertained simply by rooting for a professional football team on Sundays or wasting 5 hours on a golf course drinking beer with buddies but alas, no. Zero interest in any that stuff. Why?

The core reasons why I've been "driven"/tortured by a need to be outwardly successful are not super-important now. Childhood trauma? Bullying? Growing up with lower income than most of my peers? Maybe some, maybe all of these things.

Back to the definition of "success", though. Digging deep. For me it's been a moving, changing target. At one time or another, and in total transparency, it has been at least one of the following throughout my life:

  • People will wish they were me, they will "envy" my obvious wealth like I once did with others as a kid. Perhaps they will even feel like less, themselves, seeing my success (yikes, that one gets dark quickly). Let's take it further. People will be so jealous of me that they will not even be able to enjoy life themselves once they see what I've accomplished. They will realize their life was terrible compared to mine.
  • People will talk about my success positively and in awe, when I'm not around. I'll be the one everyone is talking about all the time, at parties and at dinners, and everyone will be amazed by me in total wonderment.
  • My kids will grow up with privilege and plenty, never to feel like I did as a kid. They will feel totally rich and wealthy, treating their friends to great wealth and experiences as well.
  • I would be just like the people my parents worshipped throughout my childhood. I would be the one! I'd be the "lucky" wealthy person who had it made, who had millions of dollars and thus had achieved the absolute pinnacle of life in my parent's eyes.
  • I'd have "Significantly" more income than most people. Not just a little more. So much more that it would be quite frankly shocking to most others. Then they'd see! Then I'd be the man. The one.

Of course, all of these definitions of success are ridiculous and wrong. They tortured me for so long, and I have to let them all go. They must go.

All of them are about external validation.

All of them are easily disproved.

  • A rich person who is old would trade it all to be young.
  • A sick person would do anything to be healthy.
  • A wealthy person who has squandered their family and life would do anything to reset the balance.
  • Most kids I know who grew up with money and priveledge struggle in many areas as adults themselves now.
  • And so on.

When I think about people I really admire and envy, they all have one thing in common: They work on being themselves vs. being someone else. Yes, many of them are also rich, but their financial wealth is a byproduct of simply being comfortable in their own skin.

True success is knowing and feeling that you, as yourself, have true value. You have no need for external validation. That is SO POWERFUL.

So, when we think about the original question "why is it important that you are successful?", then pair that with the question "what is success anyway?" we can kinda work back into what we should shoot for with our professional journey.

For me, whatever I do needs to be "me". It needs to be unwaveringly, unapologetically, me. What that means is that by doing it, I will need only my own approval and acceptance to be happy at the end of every day.

And, that may mean less money. That may mean less cool "stuff" and meaningless material shit. Worthless stuff when compared to being self-assured every day.

In my new definition of success, people will look up to me as an inspiration not because of my financial success, but because they see someone who doesn't need anyone else for validation.

That also means expanding my notion of self-worth outside of my profession and income level. I'm passionate about many things and bring value in so many ways to so many people outside of my profession, yet my previous false definitions of success have eclipsed that value for decades.

The minute a bad client or tough work situation throws me into a self-worth spiral is the minute I've lost sight of all of this.

So, ask yourself these questions. It's work. For me, this involved writing for a few hours, as well, scribbling all of this out with pen and paper. Why is being successful important to you?