I recently read a lovely article by another blogger Lisasaurus and her thoughts on what makes you a success. It really got me thinking about what makes you a success and what is my contribution to the world. How do I view other people’s success? For the last 15 years we have run a business and have built it up to be a pretty great business. We have put the hours in, focussed on getting bigger and being well known in our area and basically tried to make a good amount of money to do the things we love doing. Let’s face it for some of us during our twenties is a time, where I did anyway, we think about expanding our wealth, wanting more and getting ahead. What you would assume is “being successful”. I grew up in a household and an area where success was measured by what you did for a job, what car you drove and what “things” you had. I went to a school that thrived on that life and the importance of what you did after school and what university you were going to was of great importance.
I left school and due to a number of factors didn’t follow through with what I wanted to do at university because at that time I was done with study. I was done with school and just wanted to get out and enjoy the world, work and earn some money and just experience life and what was out there for me. I never ended up going to university and at a few times in my life I have said that this was my biggest regret. It took a dear friend of mine to remind me that if I had gone to university I wouldn’t have everything I have now. She was right. I would inevitably be a slightly different person, would never have met my husband, never have had the two beautiful kids I have now and half the people I know who have thoroughly enriched my life over the years.
I wouldn’t be me.
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives”
I spent my twenties trying to “make something of myself”. I did study at TAFE, but for some reason thought this wasn’t as important as university, loved working in hospitality for many years before I began the hard uphill climb to fight my way up the corporate ladder. I was determined that I was going to be someone, someone successful and someone my parents would be proud of. After several years of doing this and getting marginally ahead I had an annual leave break and over that time I worked in an existing business and helped with some marketing, advertising ideas and just general ways of running the business and staff better. To cut the boring bits out I ended up handing in my resignation and going into partnership with this person on a business that I didn’t really have much idea about. My job would be really for the operations and management side of things so the rest I knew I could learn.
15 years later we have built a successful business that has seen us enjoy some wonderful family holidays, buy a house and basically live a pretty good life in a pretty good place. I was a business owner, successful (although my school wasn’t asking me back for a speech as it is within the trades industry so not really corporate enough for some), living the Australian dream.
But then about 7 years ago I had kids and I also started properly growing up. You know, hitting the 30’s and thinking differently to how you do in your twenties. I managed for the next 5 years to work part-time while hubby took over the business and focus on the kids. I don’t need to tell any mum how wonderful it is to be able to do this, even through there were the tough times and there were certainly many of those when hubby would come home and I would be in tears because of the usual things mums worry about when they start this crazy parenting ride. As the kids grew up I think I had the perfect balance. I got to spend time with the kids but then I also got to go and use my brain and interact with other people, solve problems, feel useful other than just being a mum. Now that I am back running the business again while my husband has a break and spends some time with the kids I realise my values have changed and this hasn’t just happened, it’s been a process over the last 7 years. As I have grown myself and watched my kids grow the things I deemed as important and what I thought success was is quite different.
I look at the people I am friends with now, and all of them are successful. Not because of what they do, actually, to be honest, some of my friends I don’t actually know exactly what they do. I mean I know, but sort of don’t but my point is I don’t really care what they do for work. Sure I want them to be happy in their job but I consider them as successful because of the people they are and the way their families are. Most of my friends have goals and I have watched over the years as many continue to achieve them or have achieved some and set new ones in all facets of life be it work, parenting, hobbies, personal pursuits.
Albert Einstein was onto it about most things:
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value”
All of my friends I view as successful because of who they are. I have a handful of extremely wonderful friends, I think I have said that before. All strong, independent, fiercely loyal, strong women. They are successful because of how they conduct themselves, the respect they have for others, the way they mother their children and put their families priorities over their own, they have made sacrifices for the greater good of their families. They are kind, compassionate, passionate and positive who never cast judgement quickly and allow their friends and families.
I watch these women and I see all these traits being passed down to their kids. It is all the things that I strive to be and pass on to my kids. If I raise kids with all these qualities and they are picking up rubbish in the street, I have been successful. If my kids treat their friends and their kids what I try to teach them then I have been successful. My contribution to the world isn’t defined by fame or material objects or feeling like I am not achieving enough without the fancy car and pay packet.