Who Defines Success?
What a great question! Over the 30 years I have been conducting Career Development classes for individuals and organizations, I always start with this question! The simple answer is…every single individual answers this question for themselves — there is no one else in the world who can know their definition of success other than themselves. The “tricky” part is lots of other people want to answer this question for them! Who tries to answer it and why?
- Let’s start with the media. Every day in movies, television, reality shows, ads, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue show us their versions of “success.” At least in the media I see, the majority of people are thin, buff, live in beautiful homes, have perfect marriages, children, and brilliant careers. Really?… Is this “success?”
- Often teachers and other academics in school give us their version of “success.” Is it almost perfect SAT scores, a 4.0 or better grade point average and the “right” volunteer activities? Are there really only a handful of colleges that are going to practically “guarantee success?”
And on and on… As much as our society has tried to emphasize that success means things like money, status, big titles, and fame; at the end of the day, society does not have a clue what the formula for success is and who is successful.
Because success means different things to different people, the first thing a person needs to do is define what success looks like for them. The point is, unless your Young Adult is going to choose something that is immoral or illegal, you need to let them choose. Once you have fulfilled your end of the bargain, (for most people this is assisting with your child’s under graduate degree), it is time to “bless and release.”
Parents often try to define success for their children. This is natural! Parents have spent a lot of time, money, and other resources to help their children “become successful.” This is where it really gets “touchy.”
Whatever their reality is, your kids need to discover it for themselves!! In the long run, they will develop their own passions and define their own success. Often, your children do not share your values, just like they may not look like you or have your personality. I can hear some of you saying, “But my child isn’t old enough to know what they want.” This may be. Often as Young Adults “test the waters,” they adjust their first “definition” once the “reality of life” sinks in.
Previn Fernando, author of a previous blog, “Do you Realize Your Three-Year-Old Already Knows What She Wants to be When She Grows Up?” has some insights into the Definition of Success in her new blog, “Role Playing in the Adult World.” Watch for this upcoming post and think about writing about your own unique experiences. Writing for my blog is a great way to “try out” your writing skills and get published!!