Even if you completely stuffed up today, or perhaps just had the worst year of your working life, you have still been successful. Yes, you have.
I always find the word 'success' a funny, abstract and pretty puzzling one; a concept that conjures up all kinds of emotions and rigorous debate. It's bandied around a lot in business circles, pops up frequently in the titles of self-help books and I'm often asked about it myself.
"What's the secret to your success? How do you cope with juggling success and your personal life? Was there one moment when you realized that you were successful?"
That last question always baffles me the most because it suggests that we've reached an end point, a full stop, a mountain top. Have we? Have I? Not nearly. Not even close! Although I spend every day reaching for the stars, it's not like I've landed on the moon. "Houston, this is Lisa. Mission accomplished." (Not.)
Despite the fact I run a magazine published in 37 countries and am building an extensive community around it, I still don't think I fit the dictionary definition of success ("the accomplishment of an aim or purpose"). I'm simply partway, somewhere on the journey.
That's why in the past, when people threw the S-word my way, I used to brush it off, throw it back - but I've decided not to do that anymore. Because I think it's time we all gave ourselves a little more credit. Every day, in our own corner of the world, in our own unique way, we're achieving success without acknowledging it. Success doesn't always look like a mansion, a fast car or a multimillion-dollar business that allows you to retire by your 30th birthday (I clearly missed that deadline!). It can be tiny, almost unnoticeable signs that you're succeeding in the life that you're meant to be living.
Think about it - would you categorise yourself as a complete and utter failure? I doubt it. I hope not! But that probably doesn't stop you dwelling on the small 'failures' that you may make during the day; the abrupt email you wish you could type all over again, the business meeting you definitely didn't nail, the careless thing you said to a staff member which you'd love to take back. We invest all this mental space into reliving our small acts of failure, yet we often gloss over our small acts of success. No wonder we sometimes feel wonky, unbalanced and unanchored!
I don't mean we should become unhealthily proud to the point of arrogance or morph into rampant braggers, boring everyone we meet with a monologue of our fabulous achievements. To the outside world you can be as humble as ever. But, in quiet moments when you're alone, why not celebrate your own successes with a sentence of self-love, "You know what? You did good today..."
If you're reading this thinking 'but I'm not successful' then I'm going to stick my neck out and say that you're wrong. You just need to take off your blinkers and see it. I've met a lot of successful people. I mean a lot! And their common characteristics aren't their colossal bank balances, the number of staff on their payroll or how many overseas holidays they've enjoyed this year. You might have all of that and more, but if you don't, I bet you're more successful than you think you are - in the ways that matter, because in the small moments you will have aced life every single day. And perhaps they are the true signs of success.
So take a moment, stop feeling self-conscious or self-sabotaging and see how many of the following you can do. If you recognize yourself in all of them, great. If you see a glimmer of yourself in one, that's amazing too. If it even gives you a hope, a goal, a dream, then, hey, I'll take that as a win!
SUCCESS IS WHEN...
YOU CAN SMILE TO YOURSELF. Try it. Right now. Wherever you are, turn up the corners of your mouth, ever so slightly, ever so kindly, and smile it out! It might sound cheesy but it really is one of the best currencies we have to cherish - joy. We get in the habit of only vocalizing our tough times ("I'm having an awful day") so be sure to say out loud, "I am happy."
YOU FEEL DISAPPOINTMENTS. DEEPLY. A friend of mine who runs a multimillion-dollar business recently posted an amazing quote by author Jeff Brown, "Sensitivity is a sign of life. Better hurt than hardened." I deeply admire people who embrace the full spectrum of their emotions. Who wants to pursue a purpose that makes them a robot?
YOU CAN'T SWITCH OFF ON HOLIDAY. I don't see this as a problem! The reality is, once you set yourself on your true path, it's very hard to step off for a detour to relaxville. If your brain is buzzing with ideas on a Sunday, or you have a light-bulb moment at breakfast, then congratulations. You're enlightened (and you'll find rest at the right time).
YOU HAVE NO TOLERANCE FOR MOANERS. I have no patience for people who complain about their situation but don't do anything to change it. If all that 'poor me' talk makes you grind your teeth, then it's a good sign. You've chosen to look on the bright side! If you're currently a moaner, it's time to make some changes.
YOU'RE HAPPY WHEN OTHERS ACHIEVE.
It can sometimes be hard to celebrate other people's successes when we don't feel fulfilled in our own lives. Has someone found an investment, bought a home or managed to stand on a surfboard recently? If you are glowing with pride for them, then it's a success for you too.
YOU SPENT 10 MINUTES IN NATURE OR IN A SOULFUL PLACE TODAY. I'm not talking about 10km runs or the scaling of a mountain (although they're both fun and rewarding), nor am I talking about a trip to a yoga retreat, more that you were intentional about recharging in some way. In our busy, scattered lives it can be easy to go from car to office to car to home. I see even a brief nature hiatus as an achievement. A quick hit of Mother Earth (or whatever works for you) should be a basic human right.