Recently I had a conversation with a good friend. He is the CEO of a company that began as a startup, and then leapt into a multimillion dollar a year business. He has 250+ employees, in the US and internationally. The company is doing extremely well. He lives in a beautiful home, with his wife and three adorable kids.
I was congratulating him on his accomplishments the last time we ran into each other, since I follow his company pretty closely. His response?
"Thanks, but I'll always be in my brother's shadow. He's more successful than I am. He has more money."
I was absolutely dumbfounded. I stared at him for a minute, and then finally replied, "Are you kidding me? You built your company from the ground up. You've changed the lives of 250+ people by giving them jobs that they love to go in to each morning. You've changed the lives of all of their kids and spouses by providing homes and food and comfort for them for years. How can you possibly think that your brother doing well in the stock market once and banking his cash makes him more successful than you?"
He looked at the floor and mumbled, "Well...I guess I never thought about it that way."
I was so stunned it took me a another minute to gather my thoughts, and finally I just said, "You're FAR more successful than your brother."
Then it dawned on me. Every single human on this earth has a different idea of what success looks like and what it feels like. For some being a success means making millions, for others being a success means you bought a home and have a job that provides a comfortable living for your family. For some it's barely scraping by, but still making it and ensuring that your family never goes hungry. For others it's living debt free. For some it's having hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, but having obtained a a couple of masters or doctoral degrees.
The next time you look at yourself in the mirror and wish you were more successful, remember that there are people looking at your life and WISHING they could be as successful as you are.
And as far as others looking down their nose at you? Tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. Just because their definition of success doesn't match yours, that doesn't make you any less successful. Every human has a different view of what success is. Their definition not matching your definition means nothing.
You ARE successful, in your own way. Quit tearing yourself down and focus on the positive aspects of your life.
Image by Jennifer Aldrich.