How to Define Your Success and Disregard Others
I sat on top of a gun turret for 7 months during my first tour in Iraq mostly because I volunteered for it. I liked being in 60 mph headwinds blowing past my ear holes creating a constant stream of white noise.
It gave me time to block out the reality of being in a war zone and the confines of my mind.
I thought about a lot of things up there on the turret. I thought about my future, money, my family. I also thought about how bad I didn’t want to fail.
I didn’t want to end up what my chain of command thought I would end up as.
Someone who couldn’t hack it in the real world. Someone who would have no choice but to go back into the military.
The moment I got out of the military, I was determined to make something of myself. I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to be great and have it all, so I was looked at by others as a success.
I had to be a big deal. Have a big car, house, the best family in the world. I had to never ever worry about money.
My quest to have it all started off great. I landed a sweet internship at an investment firm. I was going to learn how to make money and what it was going to take to do it.
And the money came in. It came in lumps, enough to save and spend recklessly. It was enough to pay off my motorcycle loan, even give money to my mom and dad.
It was great until it wasn’t. I was making money, but I didn’t feel like a success. I didn’t feel connected to the mission, to the cause of what I was doing.
I lost a lot because of my chase for societal success. I lost money because I spent it and didn’t feel compelled to help others. I lost my new girlfriend of a couple of weeks because I stopped paying attention to her and more to paychecks and the hunt of selling. I lost some friends because I stopped going to birthdays, anniversaries. I didn’t even show up for one of my brother’s birthdays because I decided to work.
All because I was chasing something that I didn’t define for myself.
The reason I am sharing this is because a couple weeks ago, I found I had not defined success for myself again. No matter how hard I work at my craft as a writer and storyteller, I didn’t have an end zone or goal posts to aim for. I couldn’t see shit because I didn’t know what I was looking at.
If you don’t put yourself through some kind of challenge, what do you expect to find in comfort? Do you wish to grow as a person doing the same thing over and over again?
Perhaps this is you. Maybe this is not. Whatever the case may be, real growth comes from our ability to take a step outside of something we know all too well.
Some of you are working a job right now, and chances are, you have thought about taking the leap and leaving the safe confines of the 1st and 15th paycheck. What has been holding you back from trying? Is it a fear of failure, fear you may look bad or not be successful.
What I learned over the years is that success is arbitrary. Society’s definition of success does not impact you. Having a house, a nice car, a family is great, but that does not make you successful. Neither is the amount of failure you have encountered and overcome. What matters with success is what matters to you. If you decide that running a mile a day is your goal and you meet it, that is a success. If you choose that writing 10 words a day or once a week is your goal, and you reach it, that is a success.
The world will try to define who you are and what you should be. They will try to determine your success. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, and you don’t have to define your success to anyone. Only you have to decide what you want, what you accomplish and what you will succeed at.
You choose. No one else.
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