Success has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s occurred to me that perhaps it’s time to reassess what it really is.
Success is usually determined on a professional level. One of the first questions people ask is what do you do for a living. If you say you’re a doctor, you automatically go up in their estimation. If you say you’re unemployed (as I currently am), you’re generally looked down upon.
People make snap judgements about your character based upon your job (or lack thereof). You’re considered to be successful or unsuccessful based on what you do for a living.
Success is also determined on a personal level.
Are you married? Do you have children? If they’re grown, do they have a good job or career? Do you have a nice house? Nice furnishings? Nice car? Do you live in a good neighbourhood?
The answer to all these things determines if people think you’re successful or not.
Outward success. It can be a deceptive veneer.
I’m not knocking outward success. I’m just saying it’s not a complete or accurate measure of the word.
In my opinion, there’s something to be said for inward success. For what lies behind the outward veneer.
Are you a person of integrity? Of character? Of strength? Of standards? Of morals? Of faith? A person who’s reliable? Genuine? A true example? A positive influence?
If your outward success fell away tomorrow, what would be left?
Would you be considered an inward success? Would people look up to you for who you are as a person?
Jobs come and go. Everyone is just one paycheque from being unemployed. Marriages collapse. No one is immune. You can work very hard to keep your job or your marriage but the outcome can be out of your hands. But, who you are as a person is in no one else’s hands but your own.
If you’re not the kind of person you want to be, you can change it. It’s hard work but anything worth having or accomplishing is. If you don’t have the outward signs of success, you can change that too. More hard work. But, the main thing is to not lose sight of the inward while you pursue the outward.
I’ve had nearly every aspect of outward success stripped away this year, and it’s forced me to evaluate what’s behind the veneer. It’s been a very humbling experience. I’m still working toward regaining some measure of outward success but I’ve never been more aware that the inward is what really counts. It’s made me reassess success.
My conclusion? I want to be a success in every sense of the word… but starting with the inside out.