What comes to your mind when you utter the word SUCCESS?
Right now, before you read on, just say the word. Taste it, hear it, see it. Does it come out of your mouth with strength and determination or does it make you queasy, afraid, confused?
For most, that power word is filled with glamour and promises of untold riches. Yet, we don’t often take the time to dissect this word and all the subtleties and innuendoes that come with it.
Here is a conversation I had recently with a very successful man who retired a year ago as head of his own global manufacturing company.
I start in the middle of the discussion where it got very fascinating:
He: You know, Sylvia that I am worth a very lot of money now and I don’t have to lift a finger to work hard anymore. I have the American Dream in my back pocket.
Me: I’ve known you for a long time and watched you grow your organization. I’ve seen the ups and downs and I’m glad we have this time to talk about what matters now that you are on the other side of working 24-7.
He: I only wish I had taken some of your advice when you were coaching me through the time of growing my business. I must apologize for firing you when you got too close to the core issue of what was really driving me.
Me: It’s amazing we were able to remain friends, well, not really friends, at least cordial, after we parted ways. I felt like I had let you down, Yet, here you are, a major success, at least that’s how the world sees you. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back with us was when I simply couldn’t jump up and down about the fact you had just purchased your 6th Corvette and wanted to talk about that over and over.
He: Look, I love cars. I love to drive them and polish them and smile when I see others look at me in my many-colored cars with envy.
Me: Was the way you gained your success worth it? I really want to understand your deeper motivation and how you see yourself now that you are no longer in the daily race to win.
And here is where he talked at length about that mysterious word, success. Yes, he said it was worth it to have so much money he could buy whatever at the drop of a hat. He also loved being asked to join boards and continue to have money roll in quickly and easily. He liked being applauded and “bowed to” when he would speak at meetings.
And yet….. his home life had suffered. After his second divorce, he swore never to marry again. And there were still hurts and distance with his three grown children. That is why he had contacted me after so many years. He wanted to relook at what had made him so angry with me those many years ago when he fired me as his coach.
I am now back as a coach with Mr Successful. Here is what he has asked me to write about for all of you to mull over as you continue your path to higher level success.
- It’s relationships over “stuff”: Real feelings can’t be bought. He told me that when I mentioned the King Midas story to him ages ago he knew he had to run and hide from me. King Midas wanted to be the richest person in the world. He made a pact with the devil that whatever he touched would turn to gold. And yes, that is what happened. Then one day his daughter, the lovely princess, ran to him and before he could stop her she gave him a hug, and you guessed it, she turned to a golden statue.
- Stress and fear don’t go away so fast: No matter how much you have in the bank it cannot make the doubts go away. You really must dig deep and uncover the core reasons why you behave the way you do. The tendency is to pretend happiness while always waiting for the other shoe to drop and the fear is always there that some big bad wolf will huff and puff and blow your house (or houses) down till you have nothing.
- Life is about searching for meaning: Unless you spend the time searching inside yourself for real meaning, real values about why you are in this world, you miss the whole point. Grab a coach, a mentor who will help by asking the important questions, so you can bring to light the invisible forces you need to harness and refine. That is the way to build real success and leave a powerful positive legacy.
He and I suggest you get a copy of The Chemistry of Coaching webinar to look at what you need in your career and relationships, so success is neither fleeting nor disappointing. Get a coach to help you uncover the blind spots and stay on course for a well-lived life of meaning.