I was at a conference recently where the guest speaker, Mel Robbins (the 5-second rule) said
“You are not in competition with anyone – there is enough success out there for everyone”.
At first I thought, brilliant! Good to know. That’s a relief. Then I thought, well hang on a minute, is that actually true? Is there really enough success out there for everyone? If there is, why aren’t there more ✌️successful people✌️?
OK so, we have to start by understanding that everyone’s version of success is different. Some people see success as being able to retire early, some see it as financial independence, climbing the corporate ladder, fame, power, getting married, having children, changing the world, saving the world, helping others, becoming a scratch golfer or just getting to be your authentic self every day. And if that’s not complicated enough, our definition of success changes throughout our lives. It’s not that one is more right than another or that we grow wiser with age; they are all valid definitions of success for that time in our life. If success is different for everyone, then it stands to reason that we are not all looking for it in the same places or in the same things. This is good! It cuts the competition significantly straight away.
Secondly, not everyone wants success. Let me reposition that. Not everyone wants to pay the price for it. Achieving success typically takes prolonged effort, hard work and often sacrifice. Some people don’t pursue that. It’s not that they are lazy. It’s often that they don’t see the return on investment as worth the effort, or maybe the personal or family cost is too high. They may not be willing to sacrifice what it takes to get there because they value other things greatly too. That’s their prerogative. So people are actively choosing not to pursue success. This is good [right?] and cuts the competition again.
Now think about the timing of success. Some people pursue and achieve success early in their lives and some people pursue or achieve it later. Some relinquish early success in favour of enjoyment and travelling the world; Others forgo late success in favour of quality of life and opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. So we are not all looking for success at the same time. This is also good and cuts the competition even further.
What about the scale of success? Is it only real success if it’s generally accepted by others? Some people are happier with small personal successes; being able to get out of bed every morning, being pain free, being healthy, buying your first home, getting into college, not drinking today. Others need large public life-changing wins to feel success and validation.
And then there is the role of luck or karma in success. Achieving success is sometimes about being in the right place at the right time or meeting someone who sees something in your abilities and takes a chance on you. Sometimes it’s about getting exactly the right advice, just when you need it.
If success is truly a product of so many moving parts, and not everyone wants it, then surely there is enough out there for all those who do. Food for thought anyway!