Success is open to personal interpretation and experience.
Success is open to personal interpretation and experience. AntonioGuillem

A measure of success is hard to make

I was speaking at a local networking group event recently as part of a panel and one of the questions that came up was how we define success; a great question and one to which I had not given much thought to be honest. It's an interesting topic and the more I reflected on it the more possibilities I saw for an answer.

I believe that success would be defined differently by everyone because, like everything, it's open to personal interpretation and experience. Essentially, it's an achievement of some sort and that could come from an extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. For some, the extrinsic motivation might be money, status, possessions or fame in other words confirmation to others that they are, what they define as, successful.

Others may be intrinsically motivated to achieve in order to feel satisfied and fulfilled by the achievement, doing it for themselves rather than for the acceptance or recognition by others.

Someone who earns a six-figure salary, is at the top of their profession and has a high net worth might be seen by some as being successful. Then again, a single parent living on a minimum wage yet able to make ends meet could also be described as successful, as could someone struggling with depression who manages to get up each morning, get dressed, leave the house and get to work.

I can't remember my response to the question at the time but with more time to ponder and looking back over my life so far, I can identify times when I can see that I was in some way successful. Finding work and a place to live in London and saving money to buy my own apartment. Making the move from London to Australia in my late 30s and leaving behind life as I knew it.

Winning various awards for achievements in several areas. Developing and extending myself through continuous learning and taking on work or projects that I didn't think I was capable of at the time. While I can see that these examples could be seen as success, I didn't necessarily feel successful at those times.

On the other hand, I have felt more successful or more of a sense of achievement having an important conversation when it was needed, volunteering, working with someone to help them get through challenging times and supporting someone that I recognised needed it at the time. While I acknowledge money is necessary and accolades can be important, they are not the be-all and end-all. To me success is leading a life that matters, doing something you love that benefits others and provides the freedom and flexibility to sustain the lifestyle you choose.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: