Success? Tell me what you want, what you really really want!

A few years ago when I was talking to a woman about her children, I asked her what she wanted for them.  Instantly she replied, “I want them to be Ahh.”  I asked what she meant by “Ahh.”  She snapped back, “A doctor, A lawyer, A professional – A success”.  “What about happiness?” I asked, and she replied, “They’ll be happy if they are successful.”

I have reflected on this conversation over the years, and I’m thinking about it particularly now, when our relationship with success and ambition is being looked at more closely.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s on a diet of Dallas and Dynasty – in which success was judged by how quickly you could have your private jet refuelled or how many tusks your dining table rested on.  Of course the Ewings weren’t always happy – but sure hadn’t they the annual Oil Barons’ Ball to look forward to, and a swimming pool on their patio!

The pandemic has given us time to reflect on our relationship with work and on what we really, really want.  I am now noticing in conversations that the corner office and the fancy car are no longer how we define success, and consequently that our ambitions are changing.  Or, maybe we are becoming more honest with ourselves and more courageous in stating our ambitions.

Just as the lockdowns have shown cracks in our personal relationships which maybe we didn’t notice as much because we were so busy being busy, it has also shown us the cracks in our relationship with work.

Maybe it’s time we looked at what we value.  Once we get clear on that, then we will know what our ambitions are.  Success is reaching this.

I asked a man recently what his ambition is, and he told me, “To be a great husband and a great dad”.  He is now looking at how he can continue to reach his full potential professionally, and at the same time fulfil this ambition.

So maybe that’s the gift in the hit of the pandemic.  We are beginning to  recognise what matters.

So tell me what you value, really, really value, and you’ll see what your success looks like.

© John Lovett 2021