Jump! Do it quick! Get off now! This ride is going nowhere. Get off of the rollercoaster ride that is success and failure.
The problem with the success/fail grid is that what goes up, must come down. If you are finding yourself constantly striving for success or wallowing in the despair of your perceived failures, you are asking the wrong questions. (I used to do this ALL the time, and I’m happy to know now that I have other options.)
Am I a success? (Bad question.)
Am I a failure? (Bad question.)
“The drive to be successful and the fear of failure are, like the head and tail of the coin, inseparably linked,” says Benjamin Zander in the Art of Possibility. You can’t continue to measure your life’s worth based upon the ups and downs and the “inseparable linking” of these two concepts. Only one is “arrived at comparison” Zander asserts. How insightful.
I am constantly measuring and comparing my life in order to climb to “success” which when I arrive, is in fact not a destination at all, just a mere rollercoaster gearing up for the ride down.
I’m over it. I’m not doing life through this grid anymore.
Join me as I leap off the rigorous and ever shifting, emotional rollercoaster of success or failure, by insisting on a one word replacement: contribution.
Am I making a valuable contribution? (Good question.)
Can I improve? (Good question.)
Is there something I can learn from this? (Good question.)
Rather than assuming everyone in my life should come to realize my ambitions and achievements, in contrast, a contribution mind-set tells others that I have something to give, not take. Contributions have no agendas. My mornings don’t position me to drive and compete for my success, they position me to realize that today, my life is gift- to myself and to others. What a beautiful way to reposition my perspective.
I’ll leave you with the completion of Mr. Zander’s argument of this contribution mindset.
“Naming oneself and others as a contribution produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a relationship with others that is an arena for making a difference. Rewards in the contribution game are of a deep and enduring kind, though less predictable than the trio of money, fame and power that accrue to the winner in the success game.”
(Excerpt from The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander)
For more insights from the Zanders, more talk about shifting mindsets and changing narratives, you can read my book (I’m failing at) This Thing Called Home.
Warning: these questions on how you think and why you think what you think equal some very serious hard work. I think I just started to believe change was possible. Hope you will (believe it) too.