While making notes for the final entries in this series, I came across a post on my Facebook timeline by my FB friend Mel Hopkins, a sister I’ve never actually met in person or interacted with outside of FB. Mel is a social media maven who – via The Leadstory – supports people by helping them with “the right message @ the right time @ the right place” for their organizations and enterprises.
Hers was one of the first posts I read that day, and it immediately resonated with me. In a nutshell she was able to succinctly formulate what some of us continually struggle with, namely our unique and personal definition of success:
Altruism aside, HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR PROFESSIONAL/ PERSONAL SUCCESS? I measure my professional success in reach and revenue. For me, professionally Oprah is my model of success. Not only does she reach and affect millions of lives, she’s worth billions. I measure my personal success based on the ratio of days of internal harmony vs disharmony. How about you? How do you know you’re winning?
How about you?
When it comes to defining success, as black women we receive especially conflicting messages:
- We’re told we have to give twice as much to be seen as half as competent
- We let ourselves feel ugly, because we don’t conform to traditional Western criteria of beauty, and are often objectified as “exotic” – i.e. “other” – at best
- We’re expected to hold everything together while ignoring the fact that – if we are doing 100 % of the work – someone else obviously isn’t doing their fair share
So, in our efforts to be “good girls” who are “down with the struggle” we hustle away, sometimes losing sight of what really matters. To us!
Can you mentally remove yourself from the space occupied by other people’s expectations of you?
When it comes down to defining a specific goal you’re committed to achieving, listening to your own gut feeling to understand why you’ve selected that goal is a must. Too often and too easily we slip into the rut of letting other people’s expectations subconsciously dictate the paths we take in life. Although we superficially make headway along those paths, sooner or later we can no longer ignore the dissonance between our so-called “progress” and the unease we feel inside.
Even if we do choose goals that are in line with our inner values and higher intentions, we need a personalized measuring stick to tell us if – and how much – progress we are making. So, forgetting all the outward manifestations we’ve been socialized to associate with success, how will you know if you’ve made it?
Because I realize that I’m just as guilty as the next woman when it comes to struggling with this point, I sat down in preparation for this entry and gave some thought to my own definition of winning. This is what I came up with:
I am a skilled, no-nonsense but compassionate “midwife” preparing an ever-increasing number of people to give birth to their professional dreams.
Professionally I am winning when: What I charge for my services easily finances my dynamic lifestyle, because it not only reflects the (highly unique) quality of what I do, but also the true and real value those services add to the lives of anyone brave and committed enough to working with me.
Personally I am winning when: The woman I am on the inside (my values, dreams and aspirations) is positively reflected in my immediate surroundings, in my relationships with other people and in the footprint I leave behind in the world.