According to our traditional definition of success, Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global and one of Time’s 100 most influential people, “crushed” it.
But then everything changed.
Arianna pushed herself to the brink of exhaustion and physically collapsed at work. She fainted, hit her head on the corner of her desk and woke up on the floor covered in blood.
At that moment, Arianna was struck with a single thought; “This is success?!”
Arianna had followed the old rules and paradigm of success, putting her head down and cranking hard to climb up the proverbial (ahem, patriarchal) ladder.
She had “made it” but was falling apart.
The traditional definition of success is narrowly focused on money, power over, prestige and outside accolades. Historically, this old paradigm of “success” has not valued important work like caregiving. Nor does it support emotional or holistic wellbeing, not to mention the wellbeing of our planet.
It’s time for a more expansive definition of success.
Some people like Arianna are jolted out of the Success Myth with a dramatic crisis; the death or illness of a loved one, being laid off, divorce or a major life change.
Moments of crisis (hello 2020 and 2021) can shine a light on what really matters in life.
But we don’t all have an “I woke up in a pool of my own blood” dramatic story. For many of us, waking up from the delusion is a slow and groggy experience full of self-doubt and confusion.
It can be an anticlimactic moment (or series of moments) that seismically shifts your perspective on life.
It often starts with a little niggle or feeling that something is off.
Women have told me;
“I just know in my bones that I’m meant for something more.”
“I’m frequently cranky and short tempered. My stomach is in knots.”
“I feel a vague sense of dissatisfaction that I can’t really pinpoint. I’m not sleeping well.”
“This doesn’t align with my values but I don’t know how to be successful in a way that feels true to me.”
Your quiet inklings matter. They matter.
We shouldn’t have to wait for something awful to go wrong, like a family crisis or major health problem, to start listening to our hearts and bodies.
We all carry tremendous wisdom within our bodies.
A simple solution to begin coming into awareness is to journal on these questions:
What is my body or heart trying to tell me that I’ve been ignoring?
What does my heart really need right now?
Outdated beliefs can get in the way of listening to and trusting your deeper wisdom.
Often, we adopt beliefs from our broader culture without pausing to question if we really want to subscribe to that belief system. Many of these beliefs operate in a clandestine way in our subconscious mind.
For example, you might consciously think;
“Of course I believe in the importance of leisure, rest and renewal!”
…but when you try to take a break from work, you feel guilty and end up running errands in your spare time.
The outdated programming is keeping you stuck in a loop.
A belief that you have to be productive every minute of the day prevents you from actually savoring life.
Don’t worry, this is fixable!
You can intentionally choose new beliefs to cultivate, one moment at a time. Begin by identifying an old pattern of behavior or belief you’d like to shift.
What is one belief that I’ve been unconsciously holding onto that doesn’t serve me?
“Success requires sacrifice.”
“No pain, no gain.”
“Work is serious. Work can’t be fun and joyful.”
“Busyness = worthiness”
“The more busy I am, the more important I am.”
“The “ideal worker” role model = available 24/7. Always on, always available means you care and you’re committed to your job.”
“Obsession with productivity and ‘optimizing’ everything. Productivity trumps wellbeing.”
“Hustle, go-go-go, push yourself to the brink of exhaustion. Sleep when you die, rest is for the weak.”
“Creativity and financial freedom are mutually exclusive.”
“Leisure means you’re lazy and unimportant.”
“Time equals money.”
“More is better.” More output, more hours, more stuff.
“Asking for help is weak.”
“Linear, rational, logical thinking is more valuable than emotional, intuitive, collaborative, emergent, non-linear, feeling.”
“Competition over collaboration. Zero sum.”
“If women just put their heads down and work hard, we’ll get equality.”
“Women can be successful by being like men. You must sacrifice your authenticity to make it in a man’s world.”
“Caregiving is women’s work and/or less valuable.”
“Unpaid work of any kind is less valuable than paid work.”
What other beliefs do you hold that may no longer be serving you? _________________
After circling the most relevant beliefs above, journal on these questions:
How do I feel when I hold this belief?
What results am I producing in my life as a result of holding this belief or attitude?
What is the cost of operating in this way?
Is this something I want to intentionally choose to believe moving forward, or would I rather create a new belief structure?
What might be possible if I were free from this belief?
If you want support unpacking The Success Myth and creating a new, more holistic definition of success – join our next Create Work You Love!
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May we all create a more expansive, holistic definition of success for ourselves, our children and the planet,