Expressing love is what makes you happy
This week's offering was intended to focus on the question, what is success?
As a success coach, you might assume that I should have that answer. For coaching, however, the client chooses what they want to work on and the outcomes they hope to achieve. The “success” in success coach is referring to the client's idea of what success is which, in theory, might differ wildly from person to person. Even my own version of success has changed and morphed through my years.
I used to be under that common false impression that success was in the trappings, in being able to prove you were successful.
The easiest way, of course, was through the stuff we have: the bling, the holidays, the designer logos. Believing that if we keep up with the Joneses — those people we identify as successful usually by the stuff they have — we prove we are too. But this is a dangerous game, especially in a place like Bermuda, because the playing field is never even for comparisons.
In my experience, living in the big house I inherited from my parents, I don't feel any more successful, just more anxious about maintenance costs and increased land tax. Ultimately, trappings can often end up feeling like little more than a trap, not like success.
Misguidedly, I have also believed that success was a competition; that success meant the top. You weren't successful until you were The Best. Your success somehow meant less for me. Scarcity thinking and strict rules and expectations around success can make seeking it a sure-fire way to feel “less than”.
More recently, I bought into the idea that success revolved around the work I do: the achievements, the accolades. But even as I racked up seeming successes, I couldn't understand why they still felt rather empty. I tried harder, did more wanting to feel successful. I notice the trend among my peers.
We make ourselves so busy, running around so fast that we don't have time to stop to recognise if it is success that we're achieving with our “busyness”, let alone enjoy that success if it is. I feel busy, not successful.
So what is success?
This article was originally intended to look at this question and then, sitting down to write this morning, I received a very sad message that someone I knew had just died. I knew her more through her family than directly, but have been aware of her contributions to the community and her good work. She's not much older than me, a mother like me. A lovely woman, from my experience, much loved, thoughtful, creative.
Her death was sudden and unexpected and it has shocked and devastated many. I, too, am reeling. With it comes a harsh reminder of how little control we have over how life will play out and how precious the moments we have in this world really are.
These are sobering thoughts to stop us in our busy tracks. What is it that we are so frantically chasing? What really is this success we seek? At the end of the day, what are we doing it all for?
Robert Holden's bestselling book Authentic Success would tell you that the answer is love.
“Love is success,” he writes. “The real work of your life is to express your love; to know love and be loved. There is no greater work than this. What is a higher expression of humanity than love? What is more inspiring?”
Suddenly it is all stripped away, the anxiety, the comparisons, the emptiness, the proving. I know in a place deep in my gut that he is right. If we can bring love to everything we do as we do it, and be open to receive it, what more fulfilling and satisfying way can we spend our time here?
At life's end, looking around at the lives a person touches through their love, the people who love them, the creativity, the caring, their expressions of love, the inspiration they have created through their example … it may always feel too short, but it was a truly successful life.
• Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.