When we think of success, we can think of things like fame, fortune, or beating the competition. In this article, we take a fresh (La Crisalida) look at success and what it really means from a deeper perspective. Things like fame and fortune lose their appeal if we lose touch with what really makes us happy on the inside.
Outer and inner success
The first thing to understand is one person’s success can be another person’s failure. In other words, true success is not an objective thing – it is a subjective (or personal) thing. Examples of outer success include how much money you have or the authority of your position and can be relatively easy to measure. Subjective success, however, is something completely different. Subjective success is measured in such things as levels of inspiration, fulfilment, purpose and meaning.
You can only measure yourself against someone else’s objective (or outer) success – their subjective (or inner) part cannot be determined by you. Therefore, if you find yourself comparing yourself with others for your measurement of success, you are only seeing part of the picture. Many people think that outer success will make them happy – however, for our lives to be successful we need to be considering inner success first. The bonus that comes with inner success is that once you have it, you then can more easily attract outer successes.
In truth, your inner world is the deepest measure of your own success. If you are feeling not good enough or overly anxious, depressed or unworthy then there is an “inner success” issue to resolve. Having worked with many clients with anxiety and depression, the cause is usually a comparison of themselves to a fantasy of what success should be. Their measure of success is usually objective (outer success) rather than subjective (inner success) and they think they don’t measure up in the eyes of other people. Later in this article we give you some tips are aimed at helping you with inner success – know that they will help with outer success too.
So, what is success?
One thing to note is that if we define “success” as achieving something objectively, we create the opportunity of “failure” too. For the possibility of everyone being “successful” we need a paradigm shift. The definition needs to move away from the objective towards the subjective.
Here are a few definitions of success that we use at the retreat (these definitions are largely personal or subjective rather than objective):
Possibility 1: Success is being yourself
This definition is simple, yet powerful. Sometimes to be successful we feel that we need to act in a certain way to fit in or impress people. Whilst this can lead to outer success, it can have the effect of leading to a sense of inner poverty and unhappiness. When we are looking for outer approval in this way we can lose touch with our inner sense of what makes us happy. Therefore, we suggest practising just “being yourself”. Changing your definition of success in this way shifts your goal from the approval of others (which you are not in control of) to self-approval (which you are in control of). At La Crisalida Retreats we run life-makeover workshops – one of which is entitled “Finding the Authentic You”. In this workshop we explore what authenticity is, what might stop us from being authentic and what we can do to be more comfortable being ourselves more of the time.
Possibility 2: Success is being present
This definition of success is succinct but needs some explanation. In reality, there is no time but now. Time is a construct of the mind to help us function and plan. However, the more time we plan and think about the past or the future, the more we are living in a thought based “fantasy” world. For many of us, our minds are thinking ahead, planning or organising (or thinking about what has happened in the past) on a habitual basis. Our minds can often end up setting up unhealthy expectations or put us into states of excessive worry. The mind is a fantastic tool for us to deal with the outer world but spending excessive attention with thoughts and thinking can lead to us spending excessive attention on the expectations of the outer world. Again, we can lose touch with the inner sense of what makes us happy.
Possibility 3: Success is living an Inspiring and fulfilling life
If you are feeling fulfilled or inspired on a regular basis then this sounds like a decent indication of a successful life! What inspires one person can be very different to what inspires another. Of course, an inspiring life or fulfilling life is not a life without problems or challenges. For example, most people would consider Martin Luther King, Richard Branson and Mother Teresa to be inspired – these are the people that used life’s challenges to get them inspired.
Tips for inner success
Here are our four top tips for inner success. Practice these on a regular basis to set yourself up for success:
Tip 1: Take time for yourself
In this busy world, it is easy to get caught up trying to please other people too much. Although it can be satisfying to serve others, if you are sacrificing your own needs, it is not a great long-term strategy. Eventually we can lose touch with ourselves and what is important to us. This is why it can be so important to take time to yourself. When you take time for yourself, you can reconnect with what is important and your values. We can also more easily move our vision of success to an inner (subjective) vision, rather than an outer (objective) one.
Tip 2: Work towards becoming accountable for everything that happens in your life
When we blame others or outside influences for what happens in our lives we are giving away our power. Being accountable means taking full responsibility for how you feel about what is or has happened in your life. It means not letting outside influences overpower you in any area of your life. If you knew that you had a significant influence over what happens in your life you are likely to act differently. For example, some say that your thoughts create your future. If this was true just think how keeping alert and aware regarding our thoughts could make a huge difference to your life.
When we become accountable for ourselves, we start to set goals and a vision for our lives. We live with more energy and attract things into our lives that are aligned with what is most important to us.
Tip 3: Aim for balance, avoid extremes
Common sense usually tells us that if we seek out excessive pleasure, we will find excessive pain. For example, eating lots of chocolate cake will eventually make us feel ill and put on excessive weight or watching TV all day will lead to us feeling lethargic and unmotivated. A wise place to start is to assume an excess of anything in one area of life is going to have a negative effect on another area of life.
Success tends to come to those who can form a more balanced perspective on things and cope with more extreme emotional states without being overpowered by them. For example, if you can understand that fear has a positive element in addition to the negative you will be able to cope with it far better. The positive elements of fear include it helping us to remain focused, and motivated towards a goal. See our article “How to become fearless” for more information on how to conquer your fears.
Tip 4: Meditate and/or do yoga
Some of the key characteristics or skills of successful people include their resilience, flexibility, creativity, clarity of thought and calmness. It’s remarkable how many Hollywood stars and CEOs regularly meditate or do yoga. There is no coincidence here – the ability to meditate is closely linked to all of the characteristics or skills outlined above. Read this months article on successful meditation here.
The practice of yoga has been shown to reduce stress levels and to calm and equilibrate the mind. Both yoga and meditation can allow us to manage our minds and connect with the outer world with a more open and accepting approach. Meditation and yoga help us to remain balanced in our outlook on life and take more responsibility for our lives. In other words, meditation and yoga can help with all three of the other success tips above.
I suggest you take a moment now to review this article and commit to three things you are going to take forward – for example think about what tips resonate with you most, the changes that are most relevant to you and what types of resources or research (e.g. books) you may need to find take things further. Perhaps you could even make us a visit at La Crisalida Retreats on a Life Makeover Retreat.
Good luck with setting yourself up for success!