When you are a kid, say around five or six years old, success is pretty simple and uncomplicated at the heart of it. Success at five years old is as simple as FINALLY being able to tie your shoe laces. You remember that don’t you? That first time squealing because you got your fingers stuck in double knot you magically tied around them, now wondering why your fingers are turning purple and they feel cold and foreign at their tips. At times during the learning process getting confused as to wear the bunny goes and why you should be tying knots in a poor bunnys ears in the first place. For a long while you would throw yourself to the floor or stomp your feet yelling that you’ll ‘NEVER BE ABLE TO DO IT!!!’ Then that magical day comes and finally the bunny goes where it’s suppose to with no injury to anyone, leaving you jumping and giggling and squealing with unhindered glee. The definition of success really begins to change after that though and continues to change throughout each stage of your life.
When you are a teenager success really is quite variable dependant on what drives you or what your conditioning is. For some (me when I was a teenager), success is clearly dependant on achievements at school. The depth of success hinged on whether you aced your exams, got excellent marks, and whether you favourite teacher and parents recognised your potential for great things as an outcome of being an exceptional academic performer. This was also applicable to the success desired in those that were athletic and their sporting achievements. For other teenagers success was highly dependant on friendships and relationships in school, sometimes particularly on their popularity ranking. Their desire for public and societal acceptance was first and foremost the most important aspect for feeling successful. It was easy at this time of life to judge the other for their personal success definition but in reality it is a confusing and ahem….interesting time in each of our lives – no right, no wrong, just is. Just when we figure out what we are sure success is we grow up and for some become parents, and although some still have strong definitions on the meaning of success, parenthood often flips everything on its head.
For many, becoming a parent is a great success in itself however for just as many we begin to think both our success and sanity in those first months! When the chaos and change settle into our new norm however our definition of success begins to shift toward this new chapter. Now the mere hint of a baby who feeds well, sleeps, and is healthy is our new success. The first crawl, walk and word fills our conversations. When they grow it is their ability to be resilient, independent and their ability to stick it to the man and create their life their own way – hindered not by unfair societal confines or limitations. (Okay that last bit applies to my experiences as a mother of a strong child but that’s for another time). It is however important to celebrate also our successes in our careers too.
Last night I attended a beautiful awards night for the company I work for – my ‘day job’ and one that I’m overwhelmingly passionate about. It’s an exclusive night only open to award winners in 6 divisions, 20 year employees, general managers, and executives. We get a beautifully catered dinner, a band, accommodation in a five star hotel, and a buffet breakfast that is more like a restaurant (first time I’ve ever had a Japanese Chef cook me my own gourmet omelette in front of me). I got the priveledge of going as an award recipient of an Innovation Award for Safe Work. The reason I received this was for the Quit Program I implemented across the company throughout Queensland with Q-Healths Quit Program. Many people have now either quit smoking or are on their way with a new determination and it costs them nothing. The way I see it, healthy health care workers equal a healthy health care system. The award now gives me $1,500 – to implement a new program which I have already thought out and will get moving on soon. I digress. So this award really is one of the highlights in my 13 year long health career journey and it gives me a feeling of success at this time in my life. However when I returned to my sunny Sunshine Coast it dawned on me that success is transient in nature.
As I walked along the waters edge with my family breathing in the salt water, sun dancing on the water like diamonds, I realised the fact that I am just as successful because of this moment, the love that surrounds me, the days that stretch before me.
How do you define success?