What defines success? Is it defined by our net worth or by the number of followers we have on social media? Is it having a lavish car or living in an affluent area? Perhaps it’s defined by how well-educated we are or by how much knowledge we’ve accumulated in our lifetime. The Oxford Dictionary defines success as ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’. You may well have your own idea of what success is. Running my own business, I’ve often asked myself this very question. Like anyone growing a business, I’ve experienced the highs and the lows, I’ve questioned my decisions along the way. Is this business going to work, do I have the stamina required to develop the business and what will set me apart from other businesses within my field?
Many years ago, I sat at my desk feeling despondent and unenthusiastic. Like clockwork, every Sunday evening would fill me with a feeling of sheer dread. How can I possibly face another working week? In feeling that way, my weekends were often cut short. Once Saturday was out of the way, my weekend was over. I don’t doubt that many of you will relate to that feeling. It’s incredibly unpleasant. I was so unhappy in my job and I noticed that it was having a significant impact on my performance within the role. I was once so good at my job, so what had changed? I’d become disengaged and very much uninterested in what I was doing. I had no sense of passion. Sometimes, being at your lowest point can lead you down the pathway to your highest point. Why do I say that? Well, when you’re feeling so low and so unenthusiastic, it forces you to question what makes you happy. It compels you to discover where your passion lies and that, to me, is the key to success.
Up until a couple of years ago, one of my biggest fears in life was that of failure. Nobody wants to fail; failure isn’t commended or adorned with medals. Starting out on the road of self-employment, I was extremely naïve in my approach. I expected to achieve a thriving business in a short space of time. My first year of business was anything but what I’d expected. I made numerous mistakes in that initial year and it took a lot longer than anticipated for the business to grow. Working predominantly from home, it wasn’t always easy to feel motivated in the mornings, especially knowing that I was in it alone. At that point in time, I could have quite easily given up on my dreams. Looking back, however, it’s thanks to that first year that I’m where I am today. Having learned from my mistakes, being at that low point amplified my passion and gave me the drive I needed to push forward. Failure, it seemed, had given me a real thirst for achievement.
To date, a big challenge in my life has been my lack of self-confidence. To some degree, I’ve always been an individual who questions my own abilities. Am I good enough at what I do? Can I really achieve what I want to achieve? Having a real passion in life, however, has to some extent overshadowed that feeling of self-doubt. It has refocused my attentions and allowed me to move forward. Without discovering that passion, those insecurities may well have taken over and prevented me from achieving my absolute best.
There are of course many factors that accompany us on the journey to success. The first is hard work, without which success will not come. The second is being able to really focus on what it is that you are trying to achieve. The third is having an ability to push yourself both physically and mentally, often through times of self-doubt. The fourth is being able to offer something of value to others, whatever that something may be. The fifth and arguably the hardest factor is persistence; persistence through failure, through criticism and through rejection. There is of course one underlying factor that links all the above and that is passion.
Following your dream, in any context, requires dedication and perseverance at all levels. Anybody out there who has achieved great things has done so through blood, sweat and tears. The overnight success story is rare and even then, it’s often a result of sheer passion. You see, without passion, the most knowledgeable people in the world will fail to achieve their ultimate goals. Lack of passion will, in time, amount to a lack of interest and it’s that lack of interest that will ultimately lead to failure. Passion aids focus, passion drives determination, passion reinforces knowledge and passion gives weight to what we are offering, to our service. Passion is what brings you back to your feet after you’ve been knocked down time and time again. As the character of Rocky Balboa states, ‘it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.’ Having that level of passion to push through those challenging days is, to me, exactly what defines success. Without that passion, our sense of drive and determination is simply lost.
Achieving great things in life, business related or not, takes great strength. Life is not always an easy ride. Whether you have your own business or not, don’t waste your time doing anything other than what you love to do. Find out what your passion is and run with it. Having a real passion for something gives you a real sense of purpose, the reason for which you wake up in the morning. Following your passion will lead you to find your sense of purpose and will be the driving force that powers positive change.