One of the real joys of my job is helping my clients to thrive in all aspects of their lives.
And I use the word thrive for good reason. It allows growth and development without the need to be at a goal or some assumed level and it embodies happiness, nourishment and contentment. When we are thriving we FEEL amazing. We may well buy ourselves some material goods, but they don’t define who we are or why we do what we do. When we thrive we do not compare or compete with others and we know that we are doing well in life on our own terms. We are also able to thrive throughout our lives at many different things.
Thrive, verb: to grow or develop well or vigorously, to prosper and flourish
However, if I replace ‘thrive’ with the word ‘success’, it all goes to pot. There are usually a whole host of beliefs and opinions that we already have about what success looks like – and not all of them are good. Why? because we are programmed from a very young age to view exactly what success looks like: a new car, a big house, a good job and a high income.
These are not bad in themselves, but they are simply the materialistic end-products or goals and don’t really explain how we feel or what is important to us in our lives. They are an outward projection of what we have accomplished, not the accomplishment or the process itself. To be successful you need to ACHIEVE something. They are also really limited and do not take into account anything that is non-materialistic and anything that you are in the process of doing – we see success as the achievement of our goals and only feel like we succeed once we’re at the end of something.
Success, noun: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status
I always remember a relative who made the assumption that because I didn’t work full time (she’d not had children of her own so didn’t realise I already had a full time job with my children as well as my own businesses) I wasn’t busy and that correlated to her view of my lack of success. On the other hand my ex was ‘working hard’ so was successful in her opinion. It was a viewpoint I clearly didn’t agree with but could see how damaging it could be to anyone who lacked their own conviction in what they were doing with their life. I knew at the time there was no greater success than spending time with and raising happy children.
But you see, all words have power – the power to make you feel good about yourself and your life, or the power to knock you down and make you feel out of control. It is my job to maximise the potential of others and empower them to feel great about themselves – whether their bank balance and material goods show they are successful or not. It is not the acquisition of things that makes us happy and content in the long term, but the pursuit of our own dreams, whatever they may be.
So, if you ever struggle with seeing yourself as a success in the limited terms we often think of, change your words and see yourself thriving instead.