A few years ago I was really struck by the definition of success penned by Earl Nightingale.
“Success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
He reported this definition in his book the “Strangest Secret”, and I think it is the best definition I’ve ever heard to describe success.
Success is not about:
How much you have
How much you are doing
Who you are hanging with
What you can buy
Who you are wearing
What deals you can make
How many followers you have
How many likes you get
It’s not about acquiring and accumulating. It is about working towards a WORTHY IDEAL.
What is a worthy ideal you may ask? Something you believe in, something that you think about positively, something that keeps you up at night in a good way!
It’s your contribution to something greater than you.
And by the way the opposite of success is not failure!
I would argue that the concept of failure as we often identify with it is not the opposite of success but really just opportunity.
Think about all the things that may not have turned out the way you originally planned, or desired. Think about what happened afterwards, what life is like now, compared to then!
In most instances, when we “fail” we create an alternative conclusion, and this alternative conclusion can often result in consequences, although unforeseen or predicted, that end up being very desirable.
Real failure is perhaps the essence of making a mistake, and not learning from it. Not having the awareness or reflective process to turn it into opportunity.
I was working in New York as a performance coach for the New York Rangers in the spring of 2001. I got called into the General Manager’s office one day and drove the long drive into Manhattan so I could be told I was going to be fired.
I remember it like it was yesterday. The legendary Glenn Sather leaning back on his chair with his hands behind his head, cigar in his mouth, looked at me and said, “Scotty, I’m not going to fire you, I’m just not going to re-hire you.”
Wow, the first time you get fired, well it is a strange feeling. Leaves you feeling quite empty.
What had I done? What had I not done?
The loss of my job with the team appeared as a failure to me at the time, but several months later, when I was available to come home to Montreal to take a job with the Montreal Canadiens, the team I had dreamed of working for since I was in university, well it didn’t seem like a failure very much anymore!
My epic failure in a marriage, which happened at the same time as being fired (yes, all kinds of fun!) resulted in my finding the best partner I could have ever wished to have, and the consequent creation of my wonderful daughter.
So when you are beating yourself up about so-called failure, realize that it is really just opportunity.
Understand that the opposite of success is really the absence of a worthy ideal.
Instead of burning your life candle with no intent, concentrate on establishing who you are and what you want your contribution on this earth to be, and set your life up so you are invested in that ideal.
There is no such thing as failure as it has often been labeled, the alternative pathway called opportunity is simply a part of the process of life.