Success (or Failure) is Not a Personal Experience

My #1 2018 Epiphany

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I like to think of myself as somewhat of an eccentric person. I tend to do whatever sways me at the moment with my moral compass activated and pointed wherever my personal self says it should be. And I have, for the last thirty something years of my life been that way. I rarely care very much about what some random person says or thinks about what I do or say…I’m going to do or say whatever anyway (in the most polite but honest way possible) providing it does not negatively affect me or my family.

So imagine my surprise when I was approached a couple of months ago by an intelligent young lady who asked me to be her mentor. Utterly floored by the request, I couldn’t fathom why she would want me to be her mentor and so asked “why me?” and she said “you never know who is watching you”. Apparently, she had been watching me for some time and was inspired by my accomplishments to pursue further education (despite advice to do otherwise) and wanted to connect with me regularly for advice on her professional development.

I began to notice little comments from different people after that. I am relatively open with the folks I work with, and they know I juggle being an adjunct lecturer with my regular 9-5, and was seeking a certification at the same time, and I heard someone say “I want to be like Dierdra and have my day job and side job and a family and kids at the same time….I want to have it all” Well first thing is I don’t feel like I have it all, many times I’m just tired and feeling a bit unbalanced with everything but second, I had no idea anybody would want to be anything like me strange self. Later that month, another co-worker says to me “I feel like I’m talking to myself in the future when I’m talking to you” and I realized something…I am being watched.

Quick! Hide! They’re looking at me!

I never thought of being something for anyone to aspire to at any point of my life, but I discovered that apparently I am a role model whether I like it or not. I also realized that successes and failures are not personal experiences…other people I may not even know are sharing these with me and may look to me for examples of what to do whether I like it or not, I am a role model (and so are you reader). So what does this mean for me (and you)?


Well, it means that the things I do can no longer be simply for me. There are people looking up to me, and I want to be proud of them, so I must first be proud of my own actions. I now feel an additional reason exists for me to strive for success in life outside of my family…I have to succeed for those who have entrusted me to be a role model. It feels like a pretty big deal to me (despite probably being this thing that everyone past a certain age knows), but it has filled me with a bigger sense of purpose moving into 2019.

The same goes for you too, people are looking to you for answers. What will you show them?

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


When mentors leave us…

by Joy Atkinson

Carla Williams Johnson: “Trust your gut”

by Phil La Duke
Credit: Jesse Saler

Rising Star Kristina Miller-Weston: “Why we should start a group that allows a safe space for women to see the best in themselves and in other women”

by Yitzi Weiner
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.