BBi2013 Week 7: Define Success
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed).”
― Dr. Seuss,
I like the idea of being successful. I strive to be successful at whatever I do. But when I have an inaccurate definition of success, I chase things that don’t exist…
or shouldn’t exist…
or shouldn’t exist for me…
or shouldn’t exist for me right now.
Sometimes I aim too high. And sometimes I aim too low. Sometimes I just aim too wrong.
How I define “success” will greatly affect my balance.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
― Francis Chan
One thing that has tripped me up a lot the last few years is my definition of “Successful Blogger.” In my mind, a Successful Blogger is one who
1. Generates income from the blog—maybe enough so the spouse can quit work
2. Has over
5,000 10,000 subscribers
3. Grows explosively—seemingly, without trying
4. Has a book contract with a traditional publisher and/or a published book.
Those are worthy goals. And in many ways, those are also great indicators of success. But they aren’t the only indicators of success or even the best indicators of success. They may not be the best indicators of success for me. If I’m not careful, I can get sidetracked, striving to reach those goals, and miss the “success” right before my eyes:
1. A faithful following of real people who show up and (generally) like what I have to say
2. The opportunity to impact people all around the world while still being present to my family
3. A viable outlet for writing and teaching with tremendous potential and flexibility
4. The confidence that I’m following what I believe to be God’s direction in my life
The problem with missing the success right before my eyes, is that I’m prone to worry and fret that I’m not working hard enough, or not focused enough or not talented enough to achieve “real success.” So, I work harder and get hyper-focused and set crazy goals and beat myself up for being nothing-but-average.
What a waste of valuable time and energy!
“I’ve had great success being a total idiot. ”
― Jerry Lewis
When I hear the words, “Successful Businessman/Businesswoman” I think high salary, big influence and great decision-making power. Maybe a certain position on the org chart and a big house in a posh neighborhood. Maybe company perks and corner office with giant windows. Definitely awesome shoes.
“In the West, you measure a man’s wealth by his possessions. Here, we measure a man’s wealth by his friends.”
~An unknown Ethiopian man living in dire poverty
People do really dumb, unbalanced things to become “Successful Businessmen/women”—like neglect their spouses, their children, their health or their integrity. Why?
Because our definitions of success determine our course.
Maybe it’s time we take a good, hard look how we define success. In every area of life, we must know and understand what drives us and pulls us.
What is a successful parent?
What is a successful friendship?
What is a successful marriage?
What is a successful ministry?
What is a successful blogger/businessman?
Don’t look around and use your (limited, faulty) perception of others to shape your definition. God may be leading you somewhere much bigger
or much smaller
or much different
than what you have in mind.
Whatever you set your hand to do, be certain you know exactly what you are striving for. Be certain your definition of success meets the one God has for you. That definition will determine how you spend your time, and ultimately your life.
Week Seven Focus:
For a long time, I had a crazy definition in my head of “Successful Mother.” It went something like this:
“A successful mother is one who always puts her kids first. She plays outside with her children, takes them to the park almost every day, and never, (ever!) stops playtime to do dishes or laundry or vacuum or dust. Yet, somehow, she manages to keep a tidy, organized house?? She enjoys playing imaginative games. She loves making crafts, and keeps craft supplies handy for the days she can’t go to the park due to inclement weather. She doesn’t stress about anything, especially messes. She bakes cookies and feeds them to the children after craft time. She never worries about the sugar content of the cookies. She doesn’t mind putting her personal needs (like exercise) on hold, because she knows childhood is only a season—she always keeps proper perspective and is super-sweet. And super-skinny.”
So, yeah—for a few years, I secretly perceived myself as a total failure of a mom, because that definition pretty much describes my complete opposite. I couldn’t figure out how to have a clean house if I didn’t actually take time to clean it. Nor could I figure out how to stay skinny if I baked cookies and neglected my workouts. Part of me needed to realize my definition was unrealistic. Another part of me needed to appreciate and embrace the unique gifts I bring to my children, and to stop trying to be someone I’m not.
I have a new definition of “successful mother,” and it has a lot more to do with leading my children to the heart of God than it does leading them to the park.
(Though I do enjoy the park–just not every single day. I am pro-park.)
1. Look at your job, your volunteer work, your ministry and your relationships. Write down what you consider “success” in those areas. Even if it’s insane, write it down anyway. I think it’s so good to articulate what we have in our heads.
2. Now, take a look at this:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7)
“Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. (2 Chronicles 26: 3-5)
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
3. Based on these three scriptures, how does God define success?
4. Have you uncovered a discrepancy between your definitions and God’s definition?
5. Should you write down a new definition?
If you enjoyed this post, would you kindly share it?
To see all the posts in the series Better Balance in 2013 (BBi2013) click here.
Linking up with my friend Jen today.
Your successful mom dialogue sounds just like mine – learning (slowly!) to turn that voice off:) Thanks for always being so encouraging and transparent!
P.S. You sound like a great mom – and I already know you’re a terrific blogger!
Thanks Mindy. That definition of a “Successful Mom” is fake. No one can keep a clean house AND be skinny AND be good a crafts. It would just be too unfair. 🙂 Thanks for always leaving the nicest and most affirming comments.
beautiful post, sandy.
I try to keep this in my head: this is real life, not a magazine article.
but I most definitely get bogged down.
I refuse to do things that I feel aren’t “right” — I seem to have a very black and white opinion of what is ethical and what isn’t — and in the past few years have greatly changed my version of business/blogging success. My version started just like yours, and while I have definitely achieved great things, I refuse to do anything that doesn’t feel right. I feel good about my choices, but sometimes wonder if they are holding me back.
but I can’t cross certain lines; I just can’t. I adore you. xoxo
I’ve often repeated your mantra, “this is real life, not a magazine article” to myself. I have also shared that with other women when I’ve taught on balance. I would love for you to expand upon, “I feel good about my choices, but wonder if they are holding me back.” What choices and how do you think they are holding back?
I adore you, too, friend.
Good post and a tough issue to always deal with. I know we want to make an impact and it is nice to know when we do. I think we should try to stay focused on doing that which we know is right. I often remind myself that God may only want me to reach one person while I walk this earth and if that is all he wants then who am I to think that that is not worthy? It is easy to get caught up in wanting to have those things that mark what some people think is being successful. I desire them at times too; I fight being jealous about some of those trappings at times.
I know you are making an impact Sandy. I appreciate what you do! I know your husband and children are blessed by you.
I hear what you are saying, Mark, but honestly, it would be very difficult for me to believe that God wanted me (or anyone) to reach only one person. I believe He gives us gifts and talents in order to serve others, build the kingdom and complete the Body of Christ. I think the Church needs what I have to offer and I need what everyone else has to offer. I think it’s my duty as a Christian to find ways to invest my gifts into Kingdom work.
I do struggle with jealousy at times, but I think my bigger struggle is trying to figure out how much God is asking me to step out of my comfort zone and how much He’s trying to hold me back from running myself straight into a wall because I took on so much stuff.
Thanks for always having an encouraging comment, Mark. 🙂
I’m about to make a hockey reference. Which may only serve to remind everyone that I am from Alberta Canada commenting on a blog from Kentucky. But whatever. Hopefully you will still like it 🙂
Hockey Hall-of-Famer Pavel Bure (the Russian rocket) was once asked in an interview how he felt being more successful than his bother Valerie (also an NHL alumni, now a winemaker married to Candace Cameron Bure). His response was inspiring. He said that one could argue his brother was the more successful one. He was happily married to a beautiful woman with a wonderful family, and still got to play hockey for money. So what if his single childless brother had more awards or notoriety.
The world defines success in a weird way. We need reminders like this post to stay focused on what really matters.
What is this “hockey” you speak of. Is that anything like college basketball? Because here in Kentucky, it’s the only sport that matters.
(thank you…that was a WONDERFUL analogy)
This blog is amazing. I realy like it!