A happiness expert.
A lawyer turned entrepreneur.
A technology investor.
A social activist.
What do all these seemingly different women leaders have in common?
They have all made choices that work for them and defined success to their own terms.
Now that I’ve interviewed most of our Festival Of Doers speakers asking them to define what success means to them it is obvious that a real pattern is emerging – women don’t define success based on the external factors only, but based on their inner compass.
This doesn’t mean women wouldn’t be ambitious, but they want to do it with greater purpose and meaning.
Happiness expert and positive psychologist Susanna Halonen defines success as ‘living happy and fulfilled life’. For her those things emerge from short term pleasure, such as savouring good things in the moment, and from long term purpose and meaning, being conscious of the kind of impact she has on the world.
Serial entrepreneur and mother of 10, Danusia Malina-Derben highlights an important point in her interview:
“Definition of success is constantly changing and depends on what life stage you are in.”
Many women never stop to think about this and may be judging themselves based on an outdated image of success. For instance, getting to the corner office may have been very important to you in your 20’s and 30’s, but in your 40’s you may want to use your time differently and spend more time with family. But this should not stop you from earning as much money or doing work that facilitates your personal growth.
“Success for me is pride in what I’m doing and who I’m being. It’s also about being at ease with potential failure. It’s important to get really, really clear what is important. Really important. That’s part of the definition of success.”
“If you don’t listen to your heart and follow your calling nothing else really works.”
For economical analyst and social entrepreneur Priya Virmani success means having courage to break cultural expectations and to be authentic. She defines success as “writing your own life story rather than following other people’s script.”
International success coach and positive psychologist Niyc Pidgeon defines success as being in an alignment with a purpose that is bigger than yourself. She has a very strong sense of purpose linked with being able to follow her calling. She wants to help million women globally to change their lives using positive psychology.
“Success is being able to elevate others.”
Researcher and social activist Emilia Lahti looks at success from a point of view of elevating others and the difference she can make in the connections between people. For her the key question is: “How much value I’m able to add to other people’s lives? ” Emilia makes it clear that she needs to work on herself first before she’s able to help others. Authenticity is the key!
“Success is freedom to make choices for your own life.”
Amanda aims to empower herself in a way that she can be in a position of strength to be able to make the choices she wants. It is easy to end up in a life situation where your options are limited due to your earlier life choices.
“Even if 10 million pounds would turn up on my doorstep tomorrow not much would change in my life.” says Geeta Sidhu-Robb who built a very successful business. Wealth gives you the freedom to make better life choices, but real success is when you love your life regardless of the amount of money you have.
But perhaps my personal favourite is how life coach Jo Westwood puts it:
“Success is an inner feeling of knowing I did a good job with my life today.”
She wants to go to bed every evening feeling that she has approached life with highest integrity, be that in regards to dealing with her clients, her own health or hanging out with her family and friends.
I find all of these women extraordinarily inspiring, and have learned a lot from their definition of success and their tips and life lessons.
There is no unified way to success for the simple reason that everyone’s definition of it is very different. And it should be. It is this very diversity of our purpose that creates a rich fabric of life.
It would be nice to just sign up to a secure success-ticket, but you’d be likely to end up at someone else’s station! We must stop looking for ready answers and start committing to our own path. You can do that now by answering the following questions:
Which interview inspired you the most? Why?
Whose definition of success resonates with you?
How do you define success in your own life?
Please share in the comments below that way we can all inspire each other!
Festival Of Doers is on Friday 27.1.2017 in London.