When people hear that I run a company based in the City and that I am, at once, a self-development trainer, a writer publishing works in English, Spanish and French, a think tank founder and director, an international speaker and a mother of two, they often label me “successful.”
The thing with success, though, is that it is like water: it takes the shape of its container. It is only you who can determine what success is depending on what your circumstances, priorities and goals are.
What you may regard as success may be deemed a complete failure by another person. Some individuals may prioritise making money over everything else. Others may just seek to be happy, even if that means living in abject poverty. Some people may be hell-bent on accumulating material possessions, while others may only care about spiritual enrichment. As with clothing, so with success: we all know what it looks like, but we do not all prefer the same.
This is why it is crucial for you not to waste your time and energy trying to abide by a stereotypical perception of success. Do not seek to achieve what you think will make others consider you successful. Instead, examine your own circumstances carefully, listen to your inner voice and choose your goals depending on what you know will make you feel happy and fulfilled. In the same vein, only you can design your roadmap to success. For only you know what success will be for you. Only you can shape your water.
What I can do, though, is share with you 2 key lessons I have learned after more than 20 years using the self-development programme I created to fulfil my objectives, and teaching others how to utilise it as a model to achieve their own goals.
In my experience, whatever your plans, wishes and objectives are, you will speed up and maximise your chances of being successful if:
1. You actively nurture and keep an optimistic outlook on life;
2. You set yourself small goals that will lead you towards the achievement of your big, ultimate goal.
I am aware of a philosophy of life that contends that the essence of life is, at best, meaninglessness and, at worst, suffering. Just because we are human, the followers of this school of thought say, we find ourselves constantly unfulfilled, unhappy and unsatisfied, regardless of our personal circumstances.
While I respect this point of view, I neither agree nor identify with it. The Bantu philosophy of life that nurtured and guided the likes of Nelson Mandela (a Bantu like me) and provided me with the inspiration for my self-development programme stresses the fact that there is inherent joy and meaning in life. The joy comes from the awareness that we are the inheritors and beneficiaries of the love, work and commitment of the people who came before us. This is a cause for celebration and happiness, not sadness, no matter what our circumstances may be.
Life is intrinsically meaningful because, as humans, our raison d’être is to preserve, improve and transmit this wonderful inheritance, so that future generations can benefit from it too. Life is meaningless only if your life is meaningless. Your success too will be meaningless only if your life is meaningless as well.
Far from being a meaningless accident, your life is a wonderful opportunity for you to make a unique contribution to our collective human inheritance. It is a chance for you to improve it to the best of your ability first, and then pass it on.
Our awareness of our inheritance gives us the confidence, love, compassion, courage and, above all, optimism necessary to try to change human condition and history for the better. By improving yourself and setting yourself small goals, you are not only improving your chances of being successful (whatever that means for you) you are also maximising your chances of achieving the bigger goal of making an outstanding contribution to humanity.
About the Author
Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, self-development coach, think tank founder, writer and international speaker. Her company, Medzan Training (www.medzantraining.com), specialises in providing young people, professionals and business owners with innovative and effective techniques to help them achieve their goals.