A dear friend is sitting on the couch across from me. There is a look of sleeplessness and worry on her face. She is, by her own admission, weary under the weight of the questions and fear – big, gut cramping fear- that swirls around her decision to close down her dream.
Two years ago she opened a boutique restaurant and today she is announcing that she is closing the doors. She slumps, cringing in defeat and shame, and confesses, no, she apologizes for proving the naysayers right and for being a failure.
And when I can’t take it anymore, I lean in.
You’ve got this all wrong.
This is a time for champagne.
And a little defiance.
I am so tired of being subjected to ads that promise me they hold the key to my “success”. What really irks me is in this promise of a six-figure income or vast blog reach, they presume to know what MY success looks like and that it is defined in how BIG and DOMINATING I am.
This kind of thinking is so destructive. I am tired of this narrative about how we should judge our days. And so when I see the face in front of me, shattered from the belief that she is not a success, the warrior in me reaches for her sword.
I refuse to succumb to the word “success” anymore. That word has been hijacked and polluted. Instead of compelling or inspiring to greatness, I see it harm and diminish both clients and friends.
I’d rather talk about fulfillment, joy, meaning, or whatever word makes me and them smile longingly. My personal favourite is Glorious.
I arrive back at the table (‘cause there is ALWAYS a bottle of champagne in the fridge; I am vigilant for celebration-worthy moments)…
“I am going to pop this cork,
we are going to talk about what we are celebrating.
Tell me about being Glorious.
Because here’s how I see it.”
It was glorious when you felt the beginnings of a dream and you dared to believe in yourself and the vision you had, instead of the much easier route of ignoring it, talking yourself out of it or worse yet, pretending you didn’t even hear your own soul speaking in the first place. Glorious.
That day you looked at the naysayers who wanted you to favour safety over inspiration, thanked them for their concern and then went about finding financing and partners who would share and shoulder your dream. Glorious.
The guts it took to resist the shortcuts, the cheaper but value-bending options, the dismissive bankers, all while standing, feet wide in your own power pose. Glorious.
The soft humbleness through which you found the courage to seek advice, shift your plans, dream up the community that would surround you, create a brand, invite your first customer in. Glorious.
The integrity with which you took responsibility for your creation, staying up at night to look over the numbers for the 100th time, make difficult choices, all the while holding fiscal responsibility, blaming no one, not the economy or the clients, but working hard to overcome the events that influenced the pressures on your business. Glorious.
You were the master of your life, you dared, risked, loved, brought to life, delighted; all on your own two feet. True, you did not see the doors open into year 3. Yup, you missed that target. But that is NOT the thing that defines you.
Success is a state that you have a right to define for yourself. And if you define it as a succession of moments in which you were “glorious”, well then, that changes everything, doesn’t it?
Why do we take glory and success away from one another? Why do we hold each other and ourselves up to impossible standards? When did we stop celebrating the experience, the daring and the journey only to focus on the ending and outcome (and then only validating that if it has Amazon’s reach or Oprah’s endorsement)?
It takes bravery to reclaim the right to define our success.
We have to start putting weight on the things that really matter to us and to do the hard work of owning the measures to which we will account our days. Do you know what they are for you?
How many times have I started to answer someone’s question about my company, a coaching and retreat practice that allows me to live my best life, sharing my gifts in a way that brings me exquisite meaning and joy and makes a deep contribution to those I work with, and I hear …yes but, what about profit margin, the perils of not being scalable or can I really consider it a success if I am not on Oprah’s radar?
And how many champagne-worthy moments have I let pass me by because I was caught up in success-rhetoric that I don’t even believe in? Staying focused on what matters to me is a daily endeavour. And I can admit to you, I often get sucked into my own self-minimizing language and shame as I shrug and say, “well, you are probably right, there many out there who do what I do, and are better positioned to be a success… but at least I am happy..?”
But just when I start to lose my own wrestling match with worthiness, beautiful reminders come in and save the day. Just yesterday I added to my own list of Glorious when my best friend’s mother leaned in, kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love what you are doing with your life.”
Champagne-worthy, fist-pumping moment….‘cause so do I.
Touching another’s heart, risking my vulnerability to follow my dream. Telling my truth and being seen for who I am.
And in the end, isn't that the bottom line?
There is success for all of us if we dare to claim it.
What is your Glorious?
In celebration, Tania
Tania is soon opening registration for The Re-Imagined Self (Jan 2020) and The Art of Seeing Possibly with Dewitt Jones (Feb 2020), both in Molokai Hawaii. Come and reclaim your own Glorious.
Join the first to know list by emailing Tania@advivum.ca