Everybody dreams to be successful. But what is success?
Is it wealth? If so, how much is enough? Is one million dollars in total asset a success? How about two million? How about a billion?
Is it a happy family? If so, what is a happy family? Does having no arguments at home mean a happy family? How about respect? How about quality time and deep emotional connection?
Is it freedom? If so, freedom in what regard? Financial freedom? Emotional freedom? Religious freedom? Political freedom?
Is it making a positive impact? If so, what kind of positive impact? Is it the personal impact, social impact, environmental impact, or all of them? How do you measure the impact anyway?
I bet that if I ask 10 people, I will get 10 different answers because success really means different things to different people. And rarely will I expect a very clear answer. Even if someone does have his or her own success clearly defined, it is likely to change with time.
So what does success mean to me?
I didn’t know the answer for a very long time – 26 years to be precise.
I was living my life day by day without really thinking about the future or the meaning of life. But a year ago, I decided that I did not want to live like that anymore. Or more accurately, I couldn’t live like that anymore.
I was very lost and scared. I had no clue why I was doing what I was doing. The only answer I could come up with was that I was doing it because it paid the bill. I guess there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, that is why most people do what they do. But I knew that there’s got to be a better answer. There has to be a way in which I can do what I love and also make a living. If other people can do it, I can do it too – that’s what I thought.
I did not know how to find my passion, let alone how to develop a career out of it. So I did what other lost souls did – I went searching. This self-discovery journey required a lot of effort, courage, and open-mindedness. But it was all worth it in the end. I learned and grew so much and in ways that I could have never imagined. Eventually, I found my answer – to pursue my own Social Enterprise. What I realized is that the process is just as important as the answer, if not more.
After I have answered the question of WHAT it is that I am going to do and more importantly WHY I am doing it, the task to define my own success becomes even more urgent and crucial. “How do I know if I have achieved success or not if I do not even know what success looks like for me?” I ask myself.
I still was not sure what success as social entrepreneur meant until I recently read this quote by Earl Nightingale:
Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.
To me, it perfectly summarized my definition of success and suddenly everything started to make sense. I am no longer lost. I wake up every morning feeling excited and ready to work. I learn new things and grow my mind and characters one day at a time. I know that even though the journey will be tough, I am not scared of the difficulties. Because I am on the right path and I am making progress to realize the goal, every day is a success.
I finally understood that success is not the finish line. It’s the climb.