Is how we measure our success a personal thing? Do we find we measure ourselves against metrics established for us externally? Is much of the stress we see in the world and in ourselves these days cause by trying to keep up with the Jones’s? While not of a particular religious vent these days I’m minded of the commandment in the bible not to covet my neighbours ox, or wife, or new shiny bike, or floral display etc etc. So maybe if back in days of yore there was something about people knowing that trying to keep up with others was folly!
Why so!? Well we are all different. We all have different skills and abilities. Unfortunately these days we seem to worship at the altar of celebrity and wealth so we are driven to be famous and to amass cash. How many kids want to train drivers now and how many want to be footballers or film start. As a consequence we accumulate stuff because we must have what everyone else has and we drown in a bit consumerism.
It’s like this…. (ably explored in ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K’ by Mark Manson). Footballers are good at, well, football. Some even go on to be good football pundits. Some end up as football pundits and aren’t so good….. The point is they are good at football but often useless at other things that you and I may well be good at. So we’re all good at some things but how we feel about our worth is based on how we measure success. And indeed on how society values success…. of you want to buy into that.
So we value someone being able to kick a ball and reward them with cash and plaudits while valuing less other totally more necessary roles like plumbing or farming. But we can choose how we measure our success.
Take me and my music. For years I wanted to be on the big stage. I wanted to be recognised for my own songwriting. Now the reality is that it’s pretty much a lottery based around being in the right place at the right time rather than actual talent. (See X-Factor for further guidance!) I play alongside some hugely talented musicians on the local scene. Far better musicians than me and far better than majority of crap you see becoming famous. So if I, and these people, measure our success with the metric, play in front of 10,000 people or have a number one hit we are probably going to fail. If we measure our success by the internal values like ‘to gain pleasure from entertaining people with music’ then we are likely to succeed and feel good about what we are doing.
So, pick how you measure your own personal success and pick something that is internal not external. Pick something that is based on something you value. Manson says he values failing at things because of the lessons that gives him and because it shows him he is trying new things. Things you try out that don’t work are fine. You add the experience of trying and maybe learn some things along the way that you can then utilise in planning your next adventure.
Go out and grab it!
Here’s some things that spring to mind in terms of my values
Create space to be quiet
Write about something that interests me
Feel at peace with myself
Create opportunities to engage with people
Use my musical ability to entertain people
All of these things are (almost) completely in my control. They are about how I feel about something. If I’d written some of them differently their achievement may have been outside of my control. For example ‘Write a blog entry that gets 200 hits in a day’ – this is outside of my control and could lead to anxiety fuelled writing rather than enjoyable writing.
Your values, goals, and ways to measure your success need to come from within in and not be about comparison to external factors or people.