When I was a kid, I went through a bunch of different fads. Pokemon was one. Pogs were another. Hell, I even dyed my hair and dressed up like Eminem for longer than I’d like to admit.
Perhaps on the more bizarre side of the spectrum, I was quite obsessed with Donald Trump and The Apprentice. I would watch the show faithfully each week to see who was next on the chopping block.
The show left me with big ambitions – mainly of strolling the streets of New York dressed up in a fancy suit with a briefcase full of documents under my arm. I dreamed of big board meetings full of powerful executives and commanding multi-million dollar deals with just a signature. Owning my own company became a fantasy.
Needless to say, none of that has come true (yet).
When I did have the option to move to NYC and grind out my post-collegiate years in a crowded apartment with six other dudes, I passed up the offer electing to travel across the country to Colorado swapping sky rises for mountains.
It’s been a year since I made that move. I’ve been through two jobs this past year, and neither has required a suit and tie. I don’t have a briefcase, and I’m yet to figure out what important documents people need to carry around. I made the biggest purchase of my life when I bought an engagement ring I would later use to propose to the woman of my dreams, but I assure you it was far from a multi-million dollar investment.
Over time, my ambitions and thoughts of success have changed drastically.
I’ve argued for quite awhile that I think most people approach success in the wrong way. It’s far too focused on the end product and not at all focused on their actual mission or goals.
Take, for example, my obsession with living the Trump lifestyle. I really have no urge to orchestrate business plans or oversee construction. I don’t really want to sit up in a high-rise office in NYC then sit in traffic for an hour while my limo driver attempts to chauffeur me around. I don’t want to have to wear a toupee to cover up my lack of hair on my head.
But, I did want to feel successful.
The Day I Almost Went to School For Music
Typically, success is viewed in terms of material items. Every parent wants their kid to grow up to own a large house, great car, and ultimately have enough money in the bank account to provide for their retirement.
So, imagine my parents’ surprise when I told them I wanted to go to school for music.
Let me explain. I wanted to pick up an instrument. Seemed like a harmless thing to me. My Dad had always been stellar at playing guitar so I thought that the good ‘ol six string would be the natural way to go.
I started taking lessons and, as I tend to do with a lot of things, I took it far too seriously. I started playing for hours a day. Forget calluses. I had bullet-proof skin on the end of my fingertips. I was progressing well despite having only taken lessons for a few months. Ultimately, when I was looking at applying to colleges, I thought briefly about applying for music school.
Now, you likely know that unless you make it to John Mayer status, a decent living is hard to come by as a musician.
Although my parents were always supportive, they were quick to point out the lackluster income for struggling musicians.
I’ll never forget the most intelligent thing I probably ever said during my teenage years. When my Dad asked about the income situation, I replied:
But, you don’t make a lot of money. And you’re happy right? Couldn’t I still be happy?
End of argument.
Success shouldn’t be based on objects. That’s a never-ending chase towards accumulating more stuff. It shouldn’t be defined by anything really. It should be a feeling of confidence and happiness that you’re doing what you want to do with who you want to do it.
For me, that involves helping other people through writing and building relationships with other trainers to help them build their client-base and network.
For you, it may be something completely different.
It’s tempting to let society define what success looks like. You’re encouraged to accumulate more stuff to demonstrate your level of success to the world, but that’s impossible.
Success is an internal feeling – not an outward projection of your net worth.
No doubt the world is a much better place since I decided not to go to school for music. I’m not sure how much of me whaling on the guitar anyone could actually take. Occasionally, I’ll still break it out and pretend I can play – much to the dismay of my two dogs who can hear all too well. But, I enjoy it and that’s what matters.
What does success mean to you? Also, feel free to laugh at the thought of me dressed up like Eminem with bleach blonde hair. That’s a fad I’m not too proud of.