Personal photo. Sarti, Greece
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Does success equal happiness?
”Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize Winner)
Throughout my coaching career, I noticed my clients’ objectives were more often related to success or happiness.
You could say it’s normal: we all want success and happiness.
What if you had to choose between these two?
You might say everyone would choose happiness and that’s expected.
Well, I met some people who said success was what made them happy.
We usually desire what we don’t have and we acknowledge the real value of something or someone only after we lose it, even if we believed it was meaningless beforehand. Even if people are aware of this, it’s still very hard to change this way of thinking.
One of my client’s objective was to become popular by being successful. Does popularity equal success?
What does popularity actually mean?
To a teenager, it might mean hundreds of likes on social media.
To a corporate employee, it might be great feedback from their boss and peers, and popularity among colleagues.
To a freelancer, this might mean receiving great recommendations from clients and getting new requests for their services quite often.
To a manager, it might mean his team looking up to them and being proud to be a part of them.
To a mother, it might mean that her advice is priceless to other moms and she is often sought for any type of information. And the list may continue.
In conclusion, popularity means different things to each and every one of us. Popularity can come together with success most of the times, yet maintaining popularity is harder than having success. On the other hand, you can be happy without being popular.
What is success?
Is it when you feel accomplished in your professional life? Is it when you can buy whatever you want without thinking about how this will affect your financial situation? Is it when you can take as many vacations as you want?
When you achieved what you aimed for, can you consider yourself successful? Is it enough? Or you start searching, working, fighting for your next success? So, is success something that passes right after you receive credit for your work? How can you keep the period of success longer?
Here’s how John Wooden, the coach who recruited and shaped the career of the famous basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar defined success:
Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
You can be successful early in life. At school, you get good grades. In the first year at your first job, you are elected Employee of the year. Or as a manager when your recommendations are considered the best ones, etc.
Does being successful at work mean that you are also successful at home?
Why don’t we use the expression “successful at home”?
Why is it that we can be successful at work and at home, we can only be happy? What does it mean to be successful at home: to be the desired wife, a great cook, a caring mother that children brag about at school, a reliable sister, friend or daughter?
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston S. Churchill
Any idea on how to measure success?
Is it measured in units, tens, thousands? Grades? Frequency?
For someone getting a tap on the shoulder can be a great success. For someone else only winning an important prize in their area of expertise is considered a success.
What about happiness?
Sometimes we are afraid to say we are happy, just not to jinx it.
Have you ever felt there could be a higher level of happiness and you never know if you are happy enough now, or you could be happier?
Much like the universe, there are known parts of happiness – moments you remember you were happy and they basically become your points of reference when talking about happiness – and unknown future moments that can have higher intensity or frequency.
How would you answer to How happy are you?
Not at all, somewhat, very, so very…
Or are you closer to expressions like I’ve never been so down, I am so, so, I could be better, I never felt so happy, this is the best moment of my life that I will never forget, etc?
I often ask my clients How much happiness do you want?
A bunch? A dozen moments of happiness? An ocean (are you able to handle it)? What does happiness mean? A sunny day in winter, your kid’s smile in the morning, a happy husband, a great meal you cooked for the first time and it came out great, having a beer with a friend, having no worries… You can continue the list.
I think both success and happiness mean different things for each of us and what that makes us successful or happy will not do the same for others.
That’s why there are so many question marks in this article. It’s up to you to find the right answer and the right path to happiness and success.