The modern myths series – Success

Consciously or unconsciously we seek importance. From the most basic and simple as “to be noticed”, to the more complex as “become successful”. Success needs public exposure and acclamation, starting in a potential small circle (as your own family) to the external world as your community, village, region, country or world.

Social media and third wave internet brought some democratization to this process. What was once limited to a few outstanding personalities is now available to anyone. Almost every day you have a new “hero” taking the scene with their videos, photos, statements, provocations or nonsense. It doesn’t matter what, the important is to be noticed as to be noticed = success.

But what is success?

When I ask people what’s their very first image, what pops up in their heads about success, the answers are around this:

  • A luxury villa, sports car, nice holiday resorts, party in a sandy beach, owing a company, owing a private jet, travelling the word or buying an island.

To have, buy, possess, show status, to rise above the tribe. To be noticed. It doesn’t make sense to own a fancy villa if no one can see it (or talks about it) right?

Very few will say their first image of success is “to be happy” or “to live joyfully”, probably because you can’t show that in appealing pictures.

You can’t post inner peace and joy in the media, it doesn’t make the buzz.

The myth about success is its corrupted perception putting unnecessary pressure on people, passing a wrong image of what success really is. Concepts that to be successful you need to stand out, to achieve, to accomplish, to become “someone”, to lead, to be rich, to be an entrepreneur, to manage, to be important at society eyes.

If you search in the internet, you’ll be flooded with articles like “10 habits of successful people” or “your step by step guide to success”, “the road to success”, “the secret steps of successful people” and the list is endless.

With the self-help explosion and information sharing, seems very easy that anyone can be as successful as Gates or Musk by following their paths, adopting their habits or reading the books they read. Remember, you can squeeze an orange as much as you can; all you’ll get is orange juice. You can get more or less quantity, but it stills orange juice.

There’s this idea everybody needs to be successful (general speaking career or business related) otherwise you’re just a mister nobody, or a failure.

Let me bring back the memory of someone I deeply admired; Robin Williams.

He reached the summit. He had it all; he embraced and overcome every challenge (at our eyes). He was an extraordinary actor with a unique presence moving easily from comedy to drama without losing an inch of his charisma, capabilities or end results. Acclaimed by the critic, adored by the public and awarded in several categories. Without a shadow of a doubt, even those who didn’t appreciate his kind or characters would agree this is an extraordinary actor and one hell of successful person. An icon, the pure image of success.

You know how he ended up, sadly for us. It was a complete chock. How could such a brilliant and joyful person end up his life? Success didn’t fulfill him. Success was a burden. Success is how you used to look at him, not how he felt of who he was. On his own words he felt lonely, sad, and empty.

Success is a label people or entities put on you. Success can be a bi-product, like money, possessions or achievements. But it’s not who you are ultimately. A label. What about when that label is taken away? Lost? Or falls down? Is your life so much dependent on it?

What is success after all?

Success is pretty much associated with happiness and joy. Not sure what comes first, with success you can obtain happiness; living a happy life can bring you success or being joyful leads to happiness and success. Can we have the 3 of them regardless how we “mix” them? Which one is more important?

There’s a considerable difference between happiness and joy. Some experiences, objects or events might bring you happiness. But we all know happiness is a rather short emotional state, whilst joy or bliss are more long lasting and enduring. Joy can bring you happiness, not that sure the other way around works as well. What about success in all this? The fatal mistake to think if we’re successful we’ll be happy and ultimately joyful. Joyful people consider themselves successful. Very few successful people feel themselves joyful or happy.

I’m not instigating you shouldn’t strive to achieve, build, create, overcome, excel or ultimately to succeed. My point is, don’t let success drive your life. Don’t let success at the eyes of the world become greater than you. Own your life and drive your success, regardless it it’s seen or visible from a public perspective. Driving your life regardless the good (or bad) opinions of others, you’ll feel successful.

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