Sunday night insights on Success

It is Monday November 23, 2015 and I am fresh off of another sleepless Sunday night.

I don’t know about you but Sunday nights have become my time to process my week and fully flesh out different thoughts and concepts.  Admittedly there are many of these concepts that are just not worth exploring (but I do anyway) but everyone so often I come upon one that feels important and the resulting Monday becomes energized as a result of clear understandings.  This is one such Monday.  My Sunday night was spent pondering the concept of success.

At first thought, the concept of success is a fairly simple one.  I, for example, have had a “successful” career.  I started young and worked my way to the top of a more than one company.  I made a fine living and was able to accumulate some savings.  I’ve also enjoyed a “successful” personal life.  I am married, I own more than one home, I have beautiful things and my life is peaceful.  So why was I awake last night feeling unsuccessful?  It seems crazy that someone who has done as well as I have would feel this way.  In the wee hours of the morning I came up with the answer.

If I asked you to define success what would your answer be?  You might say success is having a happy and healthy family.  You might say that success is having a lucrative career.  You might even say that success is enjoying a beautiful vacation.  There is no right or wrong answer to the question.  So, knowing this, would you expect the answer to be the same if I asked the person next to you?  If I asked you at 20 years old would the answer be the same as if I asked you at 50 years old?  Probably not.  I mean, perhaps the answers would be the same but really your definition is just that.  YOURS.

If you’re reading this, perhaps we aren’t so different.  As I’ve said, I enjoyed a “successful” career.  I was with a wonderful company for 17-1/2 years.  I worked with a remarkable CEO who respected me and appreciated my thoughts and opinions.  Sounds like a dream.  And it was.  So, why did I leave?  Why do I find myself here in startup mode without my steady income or the CEO who I enjoyed so much.  The answer is simple.  My definition of success changed.  So after a long and stellar run with my company I moved on to find my new success.

The last 6 years of my life have been an interesting journey.  At 40 years old I was able to develop my new vision of success.  It was time to lead a company.  That vision of success would force me to take a close look at some of my failures.  My most glaring failure was in my lack of education.  Success in my 20’s was about being President of my fraternity, being socially accepted and living on my own.  Notice that I did not say anything about education.  So at 40 years old I went back to school to get my Bachelor of Science degree.  In order to gain experience working with the high level thinkers I would experience as President I attended and graduated with distinction from an Executive MBA program.  With my educational credentials in tact I achieved my success when I secured a position as President of a company.  Than it happened.  That uncomfortable “rumbling” in my stomach as I began to contemplate my next moves.  What happened?  I was successful damn it!  Well, it’s simple, my definition of success changed again.  Sound familiar?  For some of us success is a moving target.  Something that we enjoy for a fleeting moment until it’s time to go hunting for success once again.

So, here I am, a 46 year old man who is getting ready to announce his new vision of success but I have to say, this one feels a bit different.  I have been “successful” many times in my life. and at this point I’m bit older and hopefully a bit wiser.  This definition of success feels more like it was borne out of a culmination of life experiences.  It may just be that this has been my success all along and only now realize it.  So let me warn you.  After this long build up my success is bound to be a bit disappointing.  It is not necessarily complex and not necessarily exclusive but it is mine and I fully intend to own it.  My success comes when I help others find and develop their success.  Confused?  Well, let me explain.

The person that is here writing this post is different than the person you would have experienced earlier in my life.  Earlier in my life I wore insight and intelligence like a shield, armor and weapon.  I used these traits to fight my way to my success and deflect any distractions that would attempt to keep me from getting there,  Here, at 46, as my definition of success has changed, so has the use of these former weapons of war.  I no longer need weapons.  Instead I choose to use these same traits that have brought me to success in the past to help me achieve my new success.  With insight, intelligence and empathy I can join in with groups and individuals so that we can create outcomes much larger and better than those we could create on our own.  This definition of success can serve me in my business life working with companies to help them find their success (whatever that may be) as well as my personal life.  Same traits, different definition of success.

So, now that I have rambled for some time about my success and success in general let me tell you what I am hoping you gathered from my rant.  For those that I have had the privilege of helping in any way I want to thank you.  Through you I have found my success and a satisfaction that I have never had before.  My journey now takes me to Vistage to curate peer groups so we can all find and achieve our own success.  Where does your journey take you?  My hope is that everyone reading this will define their own personal success and let that clarity help you develop the life that will get you there.  Please let me know if I can help you on your journey.

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