Whether we realize it or not, throughout our lives we (at some point) have given far too much credence to other’s opinions, which can contribute to our struggles with success. “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner,” Lao Tzu.
I’m sure at some point in your life your parents used the phrase, ‘If so and so jumped off a bridge, would you?’ So many of us have heard this as a result of our need to fit in by trying to have what our peers have or by doing things that our peers have done or want to do. Later in life this turns into keeping up with the Joneses.
What we don’t fully recognize is that our natural need for approval from others may contribute to challenges in our pursuit of success. This is because we allow others, and society, to define the success principles that we assign to our lives, without any proven track record of success.
We’ve heard many common societal success principles, such as, work hard, put in your time, sacrifice, and so on, but what about the thinking part of success? If we allow others to define how to achieve success, rather than experiencing how to achieve success for ourselves, what are we really learning?
If we follow the success principles that are supposed to work, why is it that so many people do not achieve success? How about we define success and the steps to achieve success for ourselves?
I’m not discounting the value that society has assigned to many of its success principles, like working hard, but what I am emphasizing is the importance of self-awareness when it comes to success and how we achieve it.
Ask a thousand people for the definition of success and chances are that you will get a thousand different answers. There may be groups of similar responses, but as a whole, success is personal; so why would we apply a one-size-fits-all approach to the principles of success?
“The more you love your decisions, the less you will need others to love them,” unknown author. Our life journey is ours. Our experiences are ours. We may share in our experiences with others, but at the end of the day, it is how we feel about our experiences that reside in our mind.
Our subconscious is continually storing information that is deposited, often without us knowing. Our subconscious then drives our habitual responses and actions. When we become conscious about why we take certain actions and the underlying drivers, we can better control our outcomes.
For example, if you become conscious of the fact that you are perpetually late for appointments or that you procrastinate; you can take steps to improve these things. The ball is in your court. When you allow your subconscious to play ball for you, how can you expect to win? You have no active part in the game!
Societal and other’s success principles get stuck in our subconscious, causing us to do things a certain way because that is the way they are done. Let’s not confuse ethical principles or interchange them in this discussion of success principles, as ethical considerations are a completely different animal. Getting ahead, regardless of my definition, yours, or the guy down the street’s definition of success should never come at a cost that causes harm to others.
Our subconscious likes to hold on to information. The longer we allow the information to reside, unchecked, through a lack of awareness and consciousness, the greater likelihood of our acceptance of subconscious information in becoming our thoughts and then beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts that we continually think about.
In order to overcome our tendency to prescribe value to what others define as success, we must ignore the success principles of others and focus on our desires and what we constitute as fulfillment from life. Our success is defined by each of us in our own unique way. Much like two people can see a situation in completely different ways, we should appreciate our own perspective. Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to stop and reflect.”
Other people can enhance our life experience and contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, but it is up to us to decipher, interpret and apply that knowledge in a way that is beneficial to our well-being.
You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets or with your mind on auto-pilot. Remember, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” Buddha. Realize that the road to success is not determined by anyone but you. This week, reflect on your path, where are and what that place means to you. If you do not like where that is, think about your opportunity to be happy- and set a course for your success.
Jolene Church is a mindfulness practitioner, success coach, and motivational speaker. Her latest book, Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset, helps people break down conditioned barriers in our thinking that inhibit our success. www.SuccessfulThinkingMindset.com
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.