Success. Do you envision success as something that you will eventually enjoy in the future once you have reached an income level, a professional title, a milestone? Many people who seek success in life do so through struggle, through force, through toil, for them that path to success does not feel good. Many believe that it is a long and arduous journey of blood, sweat and tears, and that eventually at some later date, they will enjoy the fruits of their labor. It may seem so because we all follow that same blueprint: school, degrees, qualifications, practice, experience, rising income levels, savings, promotions, setbacks, more work, more promotions. So, when do we actually feel successful? Later?
I used to know a very successful man, I was married to him. He was probably the most successful person I know, because he became successful at 22, on his first entry level job, when his starting salary in 1995 was $20,000/year. He taught me that you have to have the success mindset before you actually become successful. You all have heard this theory, that you have to feel it before you can be it. It sounds wishy-washy to most of us, but having been married to him for 15 years, I witnessed him promise himself he will be the youngest employee to earn $100K within 6 months, and actually do it, own a BMW within 6 months that he pays for in cash, and he actually did it, become a VP before 30, manage his first merger, earn a million before 35 and he actually did all those things. How did he do it? Hard work? Nope. He never worked hard. I was his office-mate, I worked much harder than he did, put in more hours, was nicer to clients, did more to impress the boss, yet he always received letters of gratitude from clients, customers would send him expensive gifts, he won office contests, got free vacations, etc. He never believed in any wishy-washy theories about success, but he did practice success. When I asked him, how did you do it, he would always claim I practice success every day. What does that mean?
At 22, he just graduated from college with no work experience and everybody already knew he was the most successful new hire in the office. He lived, breathed, embraced success. Though his job was entry level, he was already projecting qualities of a manager. He studied what skills a manager must possess and then practiced those skills every day in the office. He studies what goals our bosses had to meet, and then he exceeded their goals. I feel successful, I know I am successful, I am success.
Looking back, I now understand his mindset because today I practice the same. I AM. He never, ever, ever allowed the possibility of “what if I don’t succeed”. He never allowed doubt, he never allowed my questioning his ability- he would NEVER acknowledge my nay-sayings. Even when shit hit the fan in our office and many people were getting laid off, he never entertained the possibility that this could happen to him. I guess this is what you call single mindedness, focus, certainty, trust in yourself.
Also, he enjoyed his success even when no one could see his success. Yes, he was proud of his $20K salary. I wasn’t, I was annoyed they didn’t offer us more. But he was very proud, and he enjoyed his salary like it was huge. He practiced shopping. He spent weekly lunch hours at the BMW dealership talking to sales people as if he could afford that car. He knew exactly what it would take to earn it, he calculated the numbers he had to achieve, and acted as if it is a piece of cake. That car was already his. I had my doubts about him, is this guy for real? But he was so grateful and so proud of the little he was earning, that he talked about his success when no one else could see it. I used to be embarrassed for him. He acted like a fool. He would even talk to all the executives in our office about the car he was planning to buy as if he could actually afford it. The car was in his driveway 6 month after he got hired, and yes it was fully paid for in cash.
One day he told me “Your problem is that you know what could go wrong, while I only know what could go right”. I was offended, but it was true. We worked in banking, and all I could see are deals falling apart, closings canceled, time running out to meet our goals, stress, stress, stress. I knew I was smarter than him, had a better degree, I was much more diligent, but yes, all I could focus on are those things that could go wrong- and they often did. Some of our clients were facing bankruptcy and foreclosure, and I carried all their emotional burdens on my own back.
When I asked my ex, don’t you feel sorry for the clients you can’t help? He said no, I only feel happy for the people I can help, think how lucky they are to have me help them reach their financial goals? Those clients would write him letters of gratitude, call our manager to tell him what an awesome employee he was, refer more business to him.
He could see success in every situation, even when the entire industry was crashing, there was still a lot to feel proud of, and a lot to feel successful about. It took me 20 years to reach the same mindset, but it definitely came with a struggle to remove all my mental blocks.
It was much easier for me to feel successful about other things. I learned how to feel unconditional with love years ago, how to be unconditional about inner peace, how to be unconditional about my self, and once I learned how to never consider the possibility of hardship or failure (hard to do when you have anxiety and panic attacks), I saw success just pour in for me. I meditate to clear my obstacles, and reset my mind. It helps a lot. But once I stopped allowing any other possibilities to come into my awareness, the money just started to pour in. I lost everything I own 10 years ago, and spent many years in anxiety worried whether I would ever earn it all back. That worry was my self-doubt that was getting in the way.
I never actually realized how quickly I regained all the money I lost, how few years it took me to earn much, much more, how many impressive titles I’ve been promoted to since then, how easily money comes to me now, because I stayed focused on the financial disaster of 10 years ago. I swept all my successes under the rug, and allowed that past disaster to become me. It was my identity, and that belief that I am that past misfortune was my one and only obstacle. I am sorry I believed it.
I no longer worry about anything. Instead I only feel success. But I had to realize that I already am successful and appreciate it. It never occurred to me that when 18 months ago I decided to take 2 years off from work to travel that was proof of success. Not many people can afford to do it, I should be proud of it. Now I am appreciating all those trappings of success I never acknowledged, but always had. They truly are meaningful if you take the time to be grateful. There is no meaning in buying a mansion, unless you know how to be grateful for your mansion. There is no meaning in buying a diamond tiara, unless you know how to be absolutely proud of your tiara. It will look ridiculous, unless you know you truly deserve it. There is no meaning to money. It is just paper, But you give it meaning with how you feel about it. It could be paper, but it could also be pride, accomplishment, charity, noble deeds, helping others- it is whatever meaning you assign to it.
Sometimes it is those people who have hurt you the most that teach you the best lessons. That ex husband is long gone, an old memory I never think of. But, to this day I realize that this person handed me the blueprint to success. I never knew that success is about how I feel about myself and my own abilities. That’s not a lesson you learn in school. It should be.
Do you realize that you already are who you intended to be? We all have much, much more than we acknowledge. Look around you. Some of you ladies went to the best schools in the world, some of you have crisscrossed the world multiple times, many of you are community leaders, CEOs, entertainers, stars. Buy something nice for yourself that feels like success. Wear something that shows pride in who you are right now, not who you will be later. I am a doctor, I am an attorney, I am a VP, I am a CEO, I am a celebrity, I am a leader. I AM.