What is Success?

It is a man’s instinct, passed down through generations, to gain the trophies and prey that society considers of value. Our male ancestors would come back from their outings with the very things that they and their dependents needed at that time. This may have been food or wood or animal skins for clothing. They were guided by the their needs of the moment and not derailed by thoughts of what they might need at some distant point in the future. Their success was measured in the moment.

Today, success and recognition are usually measured in financial terms. Of course there are plenty of people who are successful who do not have large sums of money, but for most men in our consumer-orientated society, acquiring material wealth is a guaranteed way of being viewed as successful, of achieving recognition. Money has therefore become a completely acceptable and worthy prey to hunt. For many of us it is the only worthy prey today.

It is no surprise then that we have found ourselves going out on a daily basis, hunting something that we can never entirely capture, that could escape from us at any time in the future without warning, and which by itself offers no form of sustenance or physical gratification.

Man’s success today is often seen in the size of his mortgage, the cars he can run, the private schools in which he can educate his children, the clothes he can buy, the golf club he belongs to. The material list is endless. Wouldn’t it be good if his success were viewed in terms of his own feelings of happiness and fulfilment in addition to these material gains?

There is nothing wrong with wealth and power. Great things can be achieved with them; great enjoyment can be had as a result of having them. But I question whether they can benefit us fully if we have sacrificed our happiness, health or peace of mind to get them. We need to look for balance between material wealth and mental and physical well-being – they do not need to be mutually exclusive.

We strive for success, but why? What are we going to do with it if we ever feel we’ve got it? Ask yourself that question before you set off on the next rung of the career ladder? What are you doing? Something you really want to, or something that you feel you have to or should? Why are you doing it? Because it brings you great satisfaction at both a mental/emotional and physical/material level, or purely because it pays the bills? Who are you doing it all for? You or everybody else? And if you really want to help everybody else, is it not possible that you might do this best by becoming clearer yourself in what your definition of success really is?

©2009, Barry Durdant-Hollamby

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Barry Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The Art of Change , a UK based organisation specialising in helping individuals and corporations to effect sustainable, holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks and seminars - all without notes or preparation! Barry is also the author of three books the latest of which is The Male Agenda - a book which seeks to inspire men to create greater life balance and happiness. He is the father of two daughters and lives in the South East of England. Contact E-Mail

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