In this episode of the Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast, let’s measure your success, or lack thereof.We’ll start off with definitions and quotations, then the main segment talks about why pursuit of success won’t make you happy, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
Before we start, I want to, once again, ask you to support your local artist. It’s getting to the point now, in most places and within limits, to go and see live music and theatre again. Please know that if these venues are offering shows, and you feel safe with the protocols of the venue, please, please, please go and see – and support – your local artists. It’s been a really bad couple of years and some were hit worse than others. So by some art, buy some music, buy some tickets and let’s make sure the arts community gets back on their feet. Thanks.
So, tonight we’re going talk about success. We all associate success with ambition, attainment, and wealth. It can be those things, but there’s another side to that ultra-sharp Gillette blade, and it’s mean, like my cat when I bug the shit out of him. If we focus on success to exclusion of everything else, we may not like what we end up with. And, yes, that’s a preposition at the end of a sentence, Dave.
So let's start with a definition. Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Now that's quite general, but it's also our collective inferrance, more or less. It's our generation-long brainwashing about what we think of as success, how we achieve, the steps involved, all of it. But it's all a bit of a lie. Not in its entirety, but we're all victims, to a degree, of failing to reach a specific goal for ourselves that we would have pigeon-holed as success. And that's where we are going today, to help redefine that word a bit and find some real success. Let's look at some quotations for context.
Our first quote comes from Sir Colin Rex Davis who was an English conductor, known for his association with the London Symphony Orchestra. He said "The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same." He knows the truth here because he lived both as he tried to be a conductor for 10 years before he was recognized and gained any success. We'll talk about this success-failure dichotomy in more detail later, but it's real.
Next we have Albert Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time and, yes, I've gone to him as a quotation resource already once or twice because, well, he's smart and quotable. Don't judge me. Anyway, Albert said: "Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value." This speaks to the wide range of looks that success can take. It's a floor wax and a dessert topping, and if you understand that reference you're as old as I am, just saying, grampa.
Finally, we have Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. He authored 57 books and had a lot to say about to good and evil in humanity. He said "The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without." This is perhaps the single most important message to understand, that and when your fly is down. Kidding. It's the internal success thing, so let's get this party started.
Let's first ask why you're already failure. Yeah, it's a trick question, because how you define success and failure is purely internal and arbitrary. You decide, for yourself if you are a failure or a success, and you do that by playing tricks on yourself. And there are a lot of them, fallacies that dictate how you define your goals, your past, your relationships, everything. So what we need to do right from the start here, is to tell you that goals and success are not the same thing. We want to focused on goals, because that will lead us to being more comfortable with our achievements, but there are some pitfalls. Let's fall down some of those right now.
There is strong evidence to suggest that goals are the easiest way to feel like we've achieved something, so we should absolutely set goals and try to reach them. In fact, our need to set goals is so strong, researchers found that we can actually physically change our brains to help us reach them. A paper published in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews by Rebecca Compton titled "The Interface Between Emotion and Attention: A Review of Evidence from Psychology and Neuroscience," indicated that MS patients studied who set ambitious wellness goals found that their symptoms decreased and were less severe, showing that they were actually able to heal their own brains just by using them.
But what of the pitfalls I spoke about earlier? They are here too. They can be found in the "what now" area of goals where we finally reach them, and our lives don't change. Sometimes we expect the success of achieving a goal will be a cataclysmic event that will instantly change everything. It's rarely like this. Harvard Psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar in his book "Happier: Learn The Secrets To Daily Joy And Lasting Fulfillment" called this the "arrival fallacy". If only I had a bigger income. If I could just afford a bigger house. If only I could upgrade to a Porsche Cayenne instead of driving this fucking blue 1972 Pinto. But what happens when your realize these goals. Is that it? You're done? Nope. Now you still have to live with yourself, and you are the same person as you were. So it's the self that needs to change, not the goal or the unreasonable view of success.
But there's another thing about goals that's kind of a dark secret for our species. We talked about this in the last episode about greed, and that's Dopamine - simplistically stated it's the chemical our body produces to give us sense of euphoria. The rush we get when we gamble and win, or when our Vikings win the super bowl (sorry, not this year Steve!) we get those shots of dopamine. So goals are a more controlled way for us to do that. The problem, we usually like to talk about them because, guess what, getting positive feedback also releases dopamine, and in response, we feel less drive to actually complete the goal, and then we feel like we've failed. As indicated in a paper published in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology by Gollwitzer, Sheeran et al. titled "Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of Effects and Processes", it is stated "Why should you even do something if you can only talk and get a reward for it?" But since you did tell people, then didn't complete the task, we feel that sense of loss and failure. It's like getting an advance for a book then not writing the book. Read into that what you will.
So if reaching goals is the way to success, then there must be a way to find a road map that will get us there in one piece. And it's true that success does not have to be a bad word, and failure does not mean you have failed completely either. Setting and reaching, or not reaching more realistic goals can be the easiest and best way to go. And there are things that you can change to get there, so let's talk about those now.
The first thing you have to do is examine what it is you really want. I mean REALLY want. Don't tell me you want a better vehicle, ask yourself what that vehicle represents. Symbols of success are not success. This is where you need to take a moment, turn off the fucking television, and be really honest with yourself. If you want success, what does that look like? Is your vision realistic? Why would that goal make you feel successful or, more importantly, happy. This is the problem we all have: we see ourselves in a future created only in our imagination, but you really need to think of the reality of living in the off-off-off-Broadway production of your life. Think small or big, think long term and short term, but really think about what success really means to you and be honest, like, for once.
Also, and this is key to a lot of things, try to be more content with the things you already have. Goals are great, and you should make and reach them when you can. But for now, and after each small success, live life with gratitude for what you have. Don't worry about the future, and the past is done, just live with gratitude. Share what you have freely, don't hold grudges, and take 100% of the responsibility for the good and the bad. This sounds like a fucking pathetic motivational poster, I know, but it's all true. Work through some small goals, reach some small successes, and be happy about where you are and feel positive about moving forward. If you are unhappy with your life, no level of success will change your internal grudge match to the death.
Finally, realize that most people find success, not in wealth or position, but in relationships. Healthy, long-term relationships, personal or professional, are the milestones that you will measure your success with when you look back on your life. The people who stood by you, that worked with you, that shared visions and dreams, these are the things that will be more and more important, whether you're driving a Porsche or a Pinto. Dying rich, but sad, hated and alone can be failure too, just ask Mark Zuckerberg. Oh, wait, he's still alive? Jeff Bezos? Shit, never mind.
Okay, so that's it for this episode. As always, I'll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – yes, the w-w-w you know the stupid drill. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there's a link on my website – DM me if you want some stickers, seriously – free stickers, for a limited time, hahaha, right. Also, if you like what you've heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that.
It has been said, time and again over the millennia, that "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." more recently, Colin Powell reiterated this statement by saying "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." But the Dalai Lama takes a different angle when he said "Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it." So what we're left with is failure is not failure if you eventually succeed, if you do, and then you need to pay the price to not fail, even if you succeed, or something, I don't know, whatever...
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...