Defining Success in Our Own Way

By leahlambart
29 May 2024

In a world that often measures success by conventional standards—wealth, status, and power—it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters to us as individuals. We’re bombarded with societal expectations, family pressures, and cultural norms that dictate what success should look like.

But what if we dared to redefine success on our own terms?

What if we crafted our own narrative of fulfilment, guided not by external pressures but by our own set of values (or inner compass)?

Let me share a story.

This is a story about a 40-year-old man, let’s call him John, who found himself at a crossroads in his career. John had climbed the corporate ladder reaching a senior management role that many would envy. He was challenged at work but had also found a great work-life balance which allowed him to spend quality time with his two children and support his wife who was in a high-pressure, but very well-paid position.

All had been tracking well for John, but out of the blue he was offered an opportunity for further advancement —a promotion to a higher position that promised greater prestige and a fatter salary. But this role came with a catch—it demanded sacrificing precious time with his family due to relentless interstate travel and being on call around the clock. John had previously held a similar role (although with less responsibility) and hated it. Having to be ‘on’ all the time wasn’t aligned with his natural strengths and left him utterly exhausted.

When John came to me for decision-making support, I was curious as to why he was even considering this opportunity. Why did John feel compelled to even consider a role that seemed so incompatible in so many ways? The answer lay in his upbringing.

John’s father, a successful CEO of a large corporation, had cast a long shadow of expectation over him. Not only that, his grandfather had also been in a role of significant status. John felt an obligation to live up to the legacy of both his father and his grandfather to prove himself worthy.

Our coaching session delved into John’s aspirations, fears, and values. We uncovered a profound truth—he was living someone else’s definition of success, not his own. Through introspection, John realised that success, for him, wasn’t necessarily about titles, accolades, or an incredibly high income. It was about balance – balance between his professional ambitions and his personal priorities, harmony between his career and the ability to play a big part in his family’s life.

In our session, we discussed the need to define success on John’s terms. I encouraged him to complete a values assessment to understand what was most important in his life and career and then to assess how many of these values would be met if he accepted this new position.

My conversation with John was a powerful reminder about how many of us don’t take the time to define what success means to us. Instead, we are still wrapped up in how our parents, friends or colleagues define success.

Success isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition—it’s as unique and diverse as every individual. It’s about honouring our truths, embracing our passions, and living with purpose. Whilst some individuals may define success as ‘status, wealth and power’, the person sitting next to you may instead define success as ‘balance, health and happiness’.

So, as you navigate your career journey, I urge you to ask yourself—what does success mean to you?

If you would like support in figuring out what a fulfilling and successful career means to you, then contact me to discuss how our career coaching services may be able to help.

Leah Lambart
Career & Interview Coach / Founder of Relaunch Me

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