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How do you measure success?  I heard this question a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Aren’t we all striving for success in some fashion or another?  Isn’t it what drives us every day to do something or be something we’ve never been before? Or maybe for some people success is just being alive another day. Whatever it is, it’s definitely different for everyone, and we measure it by our own individual metrics.

One thing I’ve come to realize, after years of chasing the approval of people as a way of measuring success (be them corporate managers, personal friends, acquaintances, or others), is that whatever short term ‘success’ that may have seemed to be gained from their approval, fades away quickly. Leaving me disappointed, feeling like a failure, and not successful. The good thing I’ve come to realize is that if I stop looking to external sources to measure my success, and start looking internally, there are a lot of successes to celebrate and be proud of.  Successes like completing college, paying off college, having the courage to move thousands of miles away from family, friends, and everything familiar, by myself, to make a new life; saving and purchasing a home; getting out of debt; getting married; staying active and healthy; etc. The list is different for everyone, but the message is the same.  Recognizing our worth professionally and personally and the unique strengths we bring to the table is what it’s about. Success isn’t about what someone else thinks about you, it’s what you think about yourself.

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If you’re like most people (me included), when you get a great idea motivation runs high and you can’t wait to get started.  But then after a while, whether do to a hectic home life, work responsibilities, travel, etc. you wonder how will I ever make enough time to focus on this new thing.  It takes a lot of focused effort and resources to get a business off the ground. I’m constantly thinking about how to better organize my days, weeks, and months, to move things forward. Because after all, the goal is to generate income from this thing I like to do.  People often tease me because I’m very organized and love putting processes into place so that I don’t have to stop and think about what to do next in the course of my day. If I stopped to think about working out or going for a run, I’ll talk myself out of it every time.  But, when I tell myself first thing in the morning, here is what you are going to do today, a, b, and c, I’ll get it done.  For building and running my business, I keep an annual calendar broken out by quarter and month, listing all tasks I need to get done, and the deadlines by which they need to be completed. What does this do? It allows me to ‘not think’.  That sounds odd, but it’s true.  When I’ve downloaded these things on paper in advance, all have to do is execute according to the plan.  There is less clutter in my head. If you want to keep going when motivation begins to wane, put processes into place to keep you on track and moving towards your goal.

I recently heard a great Farnam Street podcast interview with Ed Latimore titled, The Secret to a Happy Life.  Ed touches on this exact topic.  He is a professional heavyweight boxer and physics major.  He talks about boxing, tough love, entropy, the worst that can happen, coaching, relationships, and a lot more.  I encourage you to take a listen.

Ed Latimore on The Secret to a Happy Life


“He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” – Proverbs 11:15

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Disk " Siberia"

I love watching surfers.  Not only are they incredibly physically fit and strong, they have amazing courage to get out there in treacherous waters, with things that are much bigger than they are lurking beneath the surface.  Each time they go out, they challenge themselves to overcome the unknown.  Even when they get knocked down and endure great setbacks, they muster a rebound to get back on the board and back in the game to take life head on.

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton lost an arm to a shark doing what she loves.  After that attack, she never gave up.  “My passion for surfing was greater than my fear of sharks” – Bethany Hamilton.  Bethany Hamilton.com

Her story is an inspiration no matter what you do for a living.  What is it that you need to overcome?  What is your shark?

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Failures in life are described in surfing terms as wipeouts.  You catch your wave, you’re cruising along, feeling confident, and things seem to be going well. Then something happens. An issue comes up with a family member, something happens at work, or you made a decision that didn’t work out the way you had planned. Often times when this happens the word failure (wipeout) comes to mind. We all have failures of some sort or another throughout our lives. If we don’t learn from them, there is a good chance we’ll repeat them. It’s natural to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. But instead of beating ourselves up, what if we looked at them as a new skill.  Successful people will tell you they’ve failed many times. The difference is they view failures as lessons they’ve learned which helped propel them forward.

Famous surfer, Laird Hamilton, puts it best this way, “Wiping out is an under appreciated skill.”
Wipeout

Have you ever been in a job or relationship where you’ve worked hard, hustled, tried to see things from different angels, and put enormous amounts of energy into it in an effort to move the needle only to see very little or nothing change? Most people have. I’ve certainly been in my share of those situations over the years. I love this quote by Warren Buffett, “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” 

After you’ve tried everything else, sometimes it’s best to just change boats.

Change Boat

Proverbs 25:19 says, “Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.” When we decide to make changes for the better in our lives, whether it’s getting fit, getting out of debt, or making career decisions, who we talk to matters.  The Bible says seek wise counsel.  If you just talk to your friends or family who don’t have the experience, insights, or vision for what you want to do and who you want to be, you’ll get frustrated. Some of them will even tell you you’re crazy or you’ll never be able to do it.  Find people who you see are doing the things you want to do and reach out to them. Ask them to lunch, coffee, or go on a hike.  Most times they’ll be flattered and willing to help.  Read, read, read.  Read books about people who have overcome obstacles and are successful in spite of their upbringing, failures, and struggles. The stories will sink into your mind and motivate you.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is exactly what the Bible tells us not to do – rely on people who have proven to us they cannot be relied on. There are so many smart, compassionate people in this world who are working hard to make it a better, safer place. Let’s tap into those minds and build relationships. Those are the people who can actually help us achieve the vision we want.

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Map your course, not theirs.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires…courage.”   –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Your network, is your net worth.  I head this phrase recently from Bob Beaudine, author of The Power of Who, and it stuck with me.  I have a finance background and was taught the math way to measure the net worth of a person. You take their total assets (home, vehicles, valuable belongings) and subtract their total liabilities (home mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, school loans, any other loans). The higher the assets than the liabilities, the higher the net worth. That is the way to measure a person’s financial net worth. However, there is another net worth too.

When I find a particularly interesting and successful person, I like to research their background.  I’m curious as to how they got to be where they are.  How much time did they put in to hone their skill and craft?  Who helped them along the way? Did they come from a healthy family upbringing, or a troubled one? What I’ve noticed is regardless as to how they were brought up, they have surrounded themselves with a lot of high energy, talented, positive people. They collaborate with these people on a regular and consistent basis and over time they’ve built trust and good friendships – a solid network.  You could say they’ve achieved a high net worth because of their network. I’m now putting more effort into building my network of trusted friends and am excited to see where it takes me. How about you?  What is your net worth?

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Art by Christine (Parrish) Barker. © Christine Barker. All rights reserved.

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© Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision 2017. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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