I am reflecting a lot currently as to what success looks like, for different people, and importantly, why.
Success is personal for all of us. Maybe for you, it is money, for other’s it may be having quality time with your children as they grow up, caring for family members, setting up a business or creating a new youth group.
Whatever success looks like for you, is your current path; at work, at home and in society, the one you want to be on to achieve your version of success?
If you continue on this path, will you be remembered for the impact you wanted to make?
The Unconscious Journey
Like so many of my generation, I was brought up on the myopic focus on “get good grades, get a job, get a house, maybe have family, pay off your mortgage, hopefully, have some retirement funds, blow the lot or pass it on, then die.”
For me I had to reach the age of 38 before a) I had any idea what real, soul-enhancing success looked like and b) the challenges, investment and intentionality required to start to move down that path.
A Mid-Life Awakening
At age 38 I did not have a crisis, it truly was an awakening. Awakening from the sleepwalking through the first twenty years of my work/adult life, which whilst generally happy and with no real complaints, was without real meaning, impact or purpose outside of serving ME.
I was grateful to have achieved a nice house, a well-paying job, a car I enjoyed, well regarded in my work role etc and none of that is a problem in itself but at age 38 I sat still, present and empty.
Despite having achieved what the outside world stated was success (education, family, friends, media etc), much of which is outlined above, I was feeling hollow, lost, soulless on the inside.
Now I speak from a privileged point of view. Can we be more philisophical about life after our base needs are met? Maybe. However, I remember being in the Masai Mara dessert 10 years ago and meeting the local tribes people who had ‘nothing,’ literally in terms of materlisam as we are used to in the West, and were just the happiest people.
I spent the next 3-4 months devouring business, self, and team development books, then the next 2 years training and becoming certified in a range of people-focused areas such as learning & development, organisational development, becoming a chartered member of the CIPD and using this new knowledge to solve real-world problems around the people agenda in my workplace which led to significant performance improvements as a result.
The Conscious Journey
I speak about an ‘awakening’ intentionally.
Something happened within me that quite literally ‘woke me up’ from my internally, ‘I focussed’ approach to life, to one that is more purposeful, collaborative and WE focussed.
To choose a conscious path over an unconscious path takes accountability, vulnerability, courage, and intentionality. But also it takes us being open to the ‘call’ from the universe.
However, this was not all-clear from the outset. Learning those new skills, meeting more people from outside of my work sector, engaging more and more with people that I did not know or did not look like me, was just the first step.
Acknowledging one’s emotions and past
I had always used to think that investment in my development was the organisations responsibility. That it was down to others to make sure I was the best I could be.
However, during Q1 2018 I invested £1200 of my own money in 6 hours of coaching and what I learned about myself during those 6 hours, was one of THE most transformational experiences for me to date.
My coach helped me see that my adolescent bullying aged 12 & 13, my self-harming at university as I delved deep into recreational substances between my late teens and early 30s, my overthinking myself into a burnout during 2016, could all link back to the fact I was suffering from emotional suppression.
I had never spoken about any of the above experiences with family, friends, previous girlfriends, teachers – nobody.
Now I am totally fine today, have an incredible network of support and feel comfortable talking vulnerably about my journey as I genuinely feel that part of my awakening, has been to feel, literally, what each of those experiences taught me.
Writing two obituaries
Thinking back to whether we are on an unconscious or conscious journey through our unique opportunity at life, I was grateful to speak with Roz Savage as part of a previous free Have Courage online summit and one of the biggest takeaways not only from Roz, but from the whole summit, was Roz’s approach to writing two obituaries.
One for the path you are currently on and one for how you want to be remembered. My desired obituary, misspelled!, can be seen as below:
If you take a look at my Thrive Global profile you will see clearly my personal vision, purpose and my ambition to serve individuals, teams, and leaders to my courageous lives, free from fear and with the opportunity to learn every day.
I am on that path, continue to be on that path and always will be, however, the clarity, belief, connection and interdependence on others of my bringing that to life, has been one of the most enriching and rewarding elements of my mid-life awakening to date.
So let me ask you, which path are you on and how do you want to be remembered?