Tonight I watched a four-minute clip of Will Ferrell giving a speech at a University of California graduation ceremony. He touched on how you will never be truly successful if you don’t learn to give beyond yourself. He says, “Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” He goes on to say, “I didn’t read any reviews. I was too busy throwing darts at the dartboard, all the while, facing my fears.”
The clip finishes with Ferrell saying, “Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.” (See the clip here.)
The clip immediately sparked something in me. I said to myself, “HELL YEAH!” It was that type of encouraging “hell yeah” that helps you see you’re not alone in your thought process. The clip got my brain thinking… and led me to open my computer at 1:03 am to start writing.
What’s your definition of success? What makes you successful? What makes you feel successful?
If you are doing everything society deems as being successful in life and you have achieved benchmarks that scream “SUCCESS!” but you don’t feel successful, then what’s the point?
Is success a title you achieve or a label someone gives you? Do you get to decide what success is to you? Yes!
Start with what drives YOUR happiness. Happiness looks different for everyone; therefore, success looks different for everyone.
My Definition of Success
To me, success is enjoying the journey. I love learning and expanding parts of myself I never knew existed. I get to create myself! I’ve uncovered gifts I never thought were in me. Staying in the moment, learning, and growing makes me realize what drives me to succeed and what makes me happy. It all starts with ME being happy and feeling free. I am figuring it out along the way and that is what excites ME. When I’ve learned something and it stops being exciting, I hand it off or I let it go. I talk to people daily who love telling me what I SHOULD do. I hear what has worked for them and what I SHOULD do to be successful like them. Although I appreciate the suggestions, because I know they are trying to help, I don’t believe I SHOULD be doing anything.
Three years ago, I hired a business coach to guide me in my strengths and help me see possibilities I could not envision. Coach Jeff Copper gave me so many “aha” moments that it was almost overwhelming how much clearer I could see… finally. He catapulted my self-growth forward and gave me the support I needed at the time, giving me solid advice along the way. But you want to know what my biggest takeaway was from our months of coaching?
While sipping on the straw of my Starbucks light-iced black coffee, I rambled on and on to Jeff about all the excuses I had and why I wasn’t making moves in my life. I looked up at him with teary eyes, hoping for a grand solution, the answer to all my problems. He sat back and said, “Anna, stop SHOULDING yourself. You’re SHOULDING all over yourself!” Oh my gosh, what? Yes!
Stunned, I straightened up, silent in disbelief and excitement. I giggled. That was it! I was “shoulding” all over myself and making such a mess! I should do this, I should do that. I should be this, I should be that. I should say this, I should say that. I should wait for this, I should wait till that. I was holding myself back in so much shit, I mean, in so much “shoulding,” that I paralyzed myself in fear and self-doubt. And worse, I was trying to be something and someone I was not. That is a lesson I’ll never forget.
Could I grow my business right now by doing specific steps outlined by experts? Absolutely. Are those steps the right course of action for people? Absolutely. Should I do those steps? Maybe.
It comes back to YOUR GOALS and what success means to YOU! If you’re complaining about where you are and where you want to be, then yes, make a change, take a step, seek advice, and follow the plan. But if you are happy and relishing in where you are right now while still being challenged, than why create stress just because you “should” do something based on other people’s standards and meaning of success.
Enjoy the moment! Live in it! If you’re a solid business person or entrepreneur, you always know deep down what you need to do next. So, if you have the ability to choose when to make your next move, do it when you want to, not when you SHOULD. When feasible, the steps that I SHOULD be doing will get done when I’m ready, when I’m complaining or bored. If I can’t get behind the moves or if the suggestions do not align with my values and what I define as success, than it’s a “hell no” or a “not yet, thank you.” Some steps require the right timing.
My work isn’t only about making money and focusing on net profit. If that had been my attitude from the get-go, I firmly believe my business would not be where it is now. I probably would have given up and crawled back to a desk job that drains me. If my focus was only on the bottom line, I would never spend time investing authentically in others; I would be looking at everyone as a paycheck. I’d have my head buried in the numbers instead of connecting with the people who I come in contact with daily. Success to me is helping people overcome obstacles, but it is also about making sure I am enjoying my life! Because at the end of the day, it’s MINE TO LIVE.
When you focus on enjoying YOUR life and who YOU are, you do what you do best. When I’m at my best, I spread joy. I make people smile and laugh. I help people think about their health and how they can improve the one body they have been given. I spark fire in people who need light. I tell my story of overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors that kept me stuck in the ordinary, constantly selling myself short for the sake of making others comfortable. I get to be goofy. I can let go of that mindset that was holding me back for so many years and show others they can do the same. I offer the positivity that will breathe life into your soul and help you see how you can start living your life now!
Success to me is also raising my daughter with a positive outlook in a negative world. When I feel I am sacrificing my relationship with her or cutting corners in my parenting, I pull back in my business. Is it worth it to me to make extra money at the expense of parenting half-assed? Never. Does it happen? All. The. Time. The win though is that I’m aware of it when that happens. I can catch myself and adjust. It’s not always easy, because I have core personality traits that pull me in passionate directions outside of being a mom.
But life isn’t only about doing things that feel good. Sometimes we have to sacrifice. There are times we have to put others first. Self-sacrifice gives us the opportunity to see things outside of our selfish selves. It helps us connect; stay grounded, and gives us purpose. Sometimes that sacrifice comes with a reward and sometimes it doesn’t.
Being a Mom is the most fantastic and confusing journey I have ever been on. It’s life-changing in all the right ways. It challenges you beyond your deepest, darkest moments. It can help you rise to your best self or it can suck you into a negative identity, leaving yourself behind, losing the gift that makes you unique.
I won’t pretend that being a Mom is my whole life and that it is the only thing that matters to me. It’s not. I have a purpose beyond motherhood. For me, to embrace only the label as a mom and nothing else suppresses all the other God-given gifts instilled in me. Being a mother to my baby girl is the most important job I’ve ever been given, and I honor that job with all my heart. But if I stay only in that role without growing as a woman and as a human being, then I’ll never get a promotion in my life.
Yes, I’ll show up every day, proving I can do my job well, but I’ll never ask the boss (ME!) for more responsibility or opportunities. I’ll be a superhero mom no matter what. That never goes away. But I’ll never see outside the mom identity or tap into my additional super hero powers and gifts.
When you’re tapping into what makes you shine, you are showing up in life as a better mom, a better dad, a better wife or husband, and a greater human being. If you are constantly suppressing, giving yourself to others without doing what brings you joy or makes you light up, then resentment becomes your norm. You will begin to resent the people you care about and, worse, hate yourself for feeling that way. No one wins when you are resentful.
When you feel your best, you’re showing up at your best in all areas of your life. To feel your best, you have to step back and get to know yourself and what lights your fire. Whatever ignites your soul, chase it. Grab it. Fall in love with it. Make it yours. Embrace it and don’t be afraid to share it. Fire spreads. Spread the love.
In training others, I show up and provide an exceptional experience and workout. If that’s how I show up in my work, I damn well better show up like that at home. But it doesn’t always happen and, like in anything, there are seasons. No matter the industry, I see the commonality of individuals putting the most important people in their lives on the back burner in order to give their ALL to those who may or may not be in their life a few months later. I believe wholeheartedly in giving back and taking care of others, but why don’t we start at home?
I care tremendously about the people who reach out to me and ask for advice and help. But how can I support those seeking help if I don’t help the ones that depend on me first? I’ve had to learn this over and over again. Balance is a constant struggle for me, but being aware of how I want to be present in my home life as a mom guides me when it comes to running my business. It may be an unorthodox way to look at business, but again, it comes down to what I define as success.
Being content in my process and continuing to grow along the way is where I am now. I love expanding my knowledge by DOING. Will I have the same outlook and perspective a year from now? Gosh, I hope not. I hope to chuckle at this post and be enlightened at the same time. Because, if I don’t, that would mean I’ve made zero moves in my life.
My values will stand true, but things change. Circumstances change, needs change, businesses change, people change, goals change. Life changes. I want to be versatile enough to change with it all. Staying grounded in my values, how I operate and work best, as well as what brings me to life, will keep me moving forward in my journey to success, all while being true to myself. And that, to me, is a living, breathing, successful life.