On the back cover of Tools of Titans, there’s a list of some of the folks Tim Ferris includes. All of them seem to have qualified because of big numbers.
Reading that list brought to mind something that still puzzles me.
For some time now, I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who winces at the frequent admonition to Go Big or Go Home. That sounds more threatening than inspiring to me. Why, I muse, would folks smart enough to abandon a huge soulless working environment want to replicate that?
And why, oh why, is millionaire status still flaunted as the pinnacle of success? Or home ownership the epito-me of the American Dream?
It all seems so, well, Twentieth Century.
That hasn’t slowed down the current crop of snake oil salesmen and women who imply that if we aren’t earning six figures, we’re losers. Of course, they’ll eagerly enroll you in a program that will move you from lump of coal to diamond so you can join the Cool Kids Club and flaunt your six-figure income. (Or maybe just help snake oil sellers increase their wealth.)
Fortunately, not everyone has bought into this in-sanity. I came across a blog post, by an anonymous author, that began, “Every time I go to a seminar on business and marketing they talk about growing my business BIGGER. The truth is, I don’t want my business bigger. I don’t want to scale it or leverage it or expand it. I want to deepen it.”
When I read this post, which goes on to describe the author’s personal vision for her business and life, it sounded familiarly like my own.
The real issue, it seems to me, is not whether goals of bigness are right or wrong. The more important consideration is this: are you measuring success using some-one else’s yardstick?
It’s incredibly easy to do. Systems of measurement have been imposed on us since we came home with our first report card.
Growing up, there may have been no discussions about finding our own vision of what success included. A predictable life was the most we could aspire to achieve.
Here’s the thing. If we don’t decide for ourselves what defines success, we can’t possibly know if what we accomplished meets that definition.
Deciding what we don’t want is just as important as deciding what we want to embrace. Happily, this an be an on-going process as our vision or priorities change.
Author Tama Kieves wrote, “Infinite patience brings immediate results, says A Course in Miracles. Today, I practice patience. I practice knowing that when some-thing moves slowly, it is deep, lasting and developing generously. I don’t want a knock off. I want a masterpiece.”
“Developing generously” sounds like a worthy pursuit to me. I do not have the same reaction when some-one demands, “monetize it.”
This isn’t just a matter of semantics, however. If we have followed a path that was suggested by others, one that kept us from hearing our own voice, and we’re afraid to question that, we never figure out what genuine success looks and feels like to us. Money may not be the most important way to measure things.
But if we’re bold enough to keep going, following our own hunches, noticing opportunities and acting on them, being brave enough to fail, we soon discover that every day becomes a treasure hunt of its own filled with new ideas, new possibilities.
Of course, we’ll still see bigness flaunted as the pinnacle of achievement. I’d prefer joy and peace as guidelines. Roots and wings. Gratitude and generosity. Curiosity and discovery. Adventure. Intangibles have a higher priority with me.
What about you? How do you measure success? Your list will be different than mine, of course.
Make sure it’s filled with things that truly matter to you. It’s your yardstick, after all.