Many successful people I know still suffer from doubt, fear and the looming doom that come with pressure (external and internal) of living up to expectations. These people are sometimes running successful companies, non-profits and initiatives that are well-respected, energizing and full of potential. Yet, they still doubt themselves and their ability to achieve.
I used to think, mistakenly, that once someone achieved “success” they would feel relief and a sense of being complete. However, what I learned in my career is that “success” is very different to different people. And, what others tell you should be YOUR success, often is not what you envision for yourself deep in your heart.
Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.
— Erma Bombeck
Friends, teachers, parents, mentors and the media try to tell us what we should want, work for, enjoy and believe to be true about our own happiness. I spent many years of my career chasing the brass ring I’d been taught would make me happy and fulfilled–great career, happy family, good health, and sparkly name-brand items all around me. While many of these things did bring me great joy, it wasn’t the definition of “success” I’d imagined for myself.
When I began LIDA360, I set out to build my personal brand and reputation with a new narrative–my definition of personal and professional success. I decided that it wasn’t the status brass ring I needed to chase, it was a lifestyle and personal satisfaction that would define my life and work as successful to me. I wanted my work to be authentic, meaningful and impactful. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people close to me, as well as those far away.
With that vision I set out to help others find the power inside themselves to be more compelling, relevant and impactful in their own lives. I wanted to help professionals strip away the tapes and coaching they’d listened to of what they “should” be and move towards what they “could” be. Call that personal branding, reputation management or coaching, my work is about helping my clients discover WHO they can be (meaning), not WHAT they should be (job).
Success for me comes in many forms–
- a handwritten note from a college student who heard me talk about online reputation management and decided to clean up her Facebook page to be more in line with her true values
- a client who overpays each and every invoice I send him because he believes I’m worth more
- the client who calls me from back stage before giving an important shareholder speech because he’s not sure he’s brave enough to be authentic and candid and just needs some support
- my positioning as a resource to shine a light on veterans’ employment issues nationally
- the soldier who writes to thank me for helping him learn how to position himself more genuinely and passionately as he looks for a job on the civilian side
- the afternoon I can take for myself to spend time with close friends (and not feel guilty!)
- the lady who buys stacks of my books as high school graduation gifts, “because kids need to believe they are powerful”
I now define success the way it works for me and for my personal brand goals.
As you consider your motivators, evaluate them against your desired reputation–who you want to be remembered as and how you desire to be known by others. Your definition of success might look differently from how you believed it would be growing up. Consider:
- Am I acting consistent with my values?
- Am I living someone else’s dream for me?
- Do I consistently show up authentically, or do I feel I’m playing a part in someone else’s story?
- Do others recognize what I’m passionate about?
- Am I moving towards my desired personal brand?
For many of us, when we look around with clear eyes and an open heart, we can see how much success we’ve actually accomplished!