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Happy New Year 2024

Let us hope this year brings more wisdom and kindness, particularly to those in power and those with influence.  

Happy New Year 2024

Happy New Year!  Let us hope this year brings more wisdom and kindness, particularly to those in power and those with influence.  

Have you had any thoughts on New Years resolutions?  Or just reflections on some changes that you would like to make?

Something that has been on my mind is how much focus there is on individual success versus community or societal success.  And along with that our very poor use of the word ‘success’.

We tend to raise our children for their personal success less than raising them to be a kind, meaningful contributor to society, would you agree?

Recently my father made comment that the daughter of a school friend of mine had become a solo dancer at the Danish Ballet, I commented that I am sure the parents are very proud.  And he responded that yes that is quite something.  I reflected that the daughter has pursued her own dream for herself, just like those who climb mountains or sail around the world and then write the book about it afterwards.  I know you can see it as inspiring but there is another side to it.  It is an ego ride, a pursuit of what I want for me.  While we clap our hands at that, we miss those that dial down their own desires (or just manage them) for the sake of relationships or the bigger picture.  For instance when we buy less or when we give space for someone else.

That very morning of this discussion my heart had been full due to the presentations that I had heard at the end of a Mindful Leadership program.  They were by senior leaders on what they would change when returning to work after the program.  They were all very senior leaders and yet all of them wanted to make things better, strengthen the culture and individuals through initiatives, providing more opportunities and changing their approach.

They are in the public service so none of them have an extremely high salary, yet they are engaged and wanting to make things better for the many.

Later I spoke to a friend who was not impressed by someone who had come into her orbit.  She commented that they had obviously done well and were successful however their behaviour was arrogant and selfish.  I interrupted her and said so why do we say ‘they have done good’?  

We say ‘done good’ when actually we mean they have been good at earning money.  That is all that means.  They are disliked, they have not paid their bills, they parked their car blocking everyone’s way.  They were ignorant of others and their effect on others.  Can that possibly be described as ‘done good’?

Our definition of ‘success’ is too narrow, it is born out of our culture that is focused on making money and individual success.

So here is a new years challenge, when you hear the word ‘success’ used in a simplistic way, challenge it.  We perpetuate the healthy and unhealthy aspects of our culture through language.  Language binds and holds meaning and at times this needs to be challenged.

Imagine if when we heard the word ‘success’ we knew it as meaning a good person, a thoughtful person, someone who contributes to others in meaningful ways?  That definition would make sense as that would bring more happiness and joy than the pursuit of money, social status and the symbols of that.

The other day a coaching client who all their life has been a high achiever, (another term that needs challenging, perhaps amended to addicted to being seen as clever, competent, part of the golden group), was reflecting on quality of life and whether she really wanted to pay the price for the next rung on the ladder and her answer was ‘no’.  That to me is success.

In effect it is stepping out of the haze of cultural indoctrination and into our own life, connecting with what will work for ‘me’.  Again, that is success, right?

The other part of the ‘success’ definition that I think we need to include is that the intention of our pursuits needs to serve the collective good.  I believe that when that is the case we are aligned and the ‘rewards’ will be inherent in the work.  We no longer need external applause, nor recognition, we know we are living a worthwhile – successful life.

What are your thoughts on this?  Would love to hear them.

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