3 Things I Learned about Success when Someone Called my Bluff
Have you ever started something, walked a few steps in, stopped, and said, "what have I done, sweet Jesus, what have I done?" **
I have. Just this week I started an educational course for business ideas that are in pre-launch mode and a couple of minutes into the first video the guy said "I also recommend you make a statement on social media for accountability. Just let everything know what you're doing and why. We expect you to be up and running in about five months."
What Have I Done?
My first thought was, wait, I actually have to go through with this? Then the stupidity of my actions settled in. Why would someone pay to take a business course that is going to teach them how to launch a business if they don't, in fact, expect to launch a business?
He called my bluff. I was taking the course to scratch my own itch. I figured this would be another step toward something I've talked about doing for years, but I was pretty sure I was going to talk about it for another couple of years. Let the ideas cogitate. Get in a better position financially. See what life brings.
There is a time to step back and wait, but a flaw to this is that some people sit back and wait their whole lives for... something. They don't live intentionally and so die without ever having had a clear vision and purpose. This made me ask myself what success means to me?
1. What is success?
If you're going to do something as hare-brained as being a dreamer you better bet a plan, a vision, and an idea of what success means to you is necessary. Personally I could care less about the million dollars everyone keeps talking about. Sure, it might be nice but my life has always centered around relationships, and to be honest that's been most of the backing behind many of my decisions - that and my belief that if I die having neglected the people around me I will regret it mightily. Money is necessary, but not priority in a decision:
- Does this decision fit my faith?
- Will this better my character?
- Will this allow me to continue investing into relationships of family and friends?
- Finally: will this justify itself financially?
Success for me is getting to the end of my life and knowing I lived it all out for truth, built strong relationships, and am leaving behind something of value to the world: presumably through relationships and writing since I don't expect to leave anything to art, science, politics, or business.
I fully believe success is not measured by what we have done but how it benefits other people. If we neglect this it may happen to us as it happened to a prominent business owner and wildly successful man. He did what he set out to do, but it was empty to him in the end.
Success without relationship blows. Success without sharing is empty.
2. Success is not a Qualification
Steven Furtick says that becoming successful won't feel like anything you had expected. Approximately a decade ago he and his wife, and several other families, decided to plant a church in Charlotte, NC. He says that much of the time he felt like he was floundering - learning to do something he had no experience in. At one time he had one of those less-than-desired moments while listening to an interview with one of his theological "mentors" when the professor was asked what he thinks of Steven Furtick trying to plant a church? The man replied "unqualified" in such a way as to impress on the listeners the gravity of M. Furtick trying to do something he had no credentials for.
As the story goes this was what inspired Furtick to write the book "Unqualified" with the blurb on the website:
Most of the things accomplished in this world are not done by people who feel hugely self-confidant and well-equipped to do the task they have set themselves too. In fact it's quite the opposite: most feel overwhelmed and insufficient, and weak.
If you believe in what you're doing, and why, then some self-doubt is normal; the damage is done when that doubt and fear of failure paralyzes us to do nothing that is hard. We should push out beyond ourselves to try new things.
3. Success is not a destination
Setting goals is essential, but we should not define who we, or what our businesses and endeavors are through goals attained. Success is not a place you arrive at, but rather a way of living. We spend tons of time looking to the future for an outcome, an ideal life, the perfect house, husband, wife, kids, promotion, more salary, accomplishments or discovery and forget our lives are here and now. We can't afford to lose the experience of now to the idealism or pessimism of a road not yet traveled.
Someone asked me this week what my perfect day looks like (which by the way was a ton of fun to imagine) but I realized I have more than one ideal. I have the ideal life I'm living now, I have the one I want to live in 5 years, and I have yet another for about 20 years from now. To be successful we have to dream dreams and visions, discover a purpose, and look forward - BUT we also need to live as fully in the moment as we can within that. Vision and purpose and dreams carry us places, and sometimes they may come true as we projected and sometimes not. Whichever happens, neglecting our everyday living and relationships will leave those accomplishments completely empty of joy, which is the key ingredient to true success. If we fail, our failure will be so much more acute than if we have spent time investing into people.
I'm learning so much in this educational course, but despite the fact that I'm now seriously thinking through my next step, this is not a formal announcement about launching a writing agency. It's an unknown journey for now, and I'm hoping you all will join me on occasionally as I write my way through the next 12 months of learning what combining vision, dreams, and purpose looks like in the everyday and professional world.
-a girl learning about that business life
**Quote taken from Les Miserable