Defining Success

Earlier in my career, a mentor of mine encouraged me to apply for a director-level position where I worked. I was honored. I was practically a shoe-in for the role he said. And I believed him.

At that time, becoming a director was the pot of gold at the end of my career rainbow. Ever since leaving college, I had been ignoring a little voice inside of me that kept nudging me to pursue a writing career. In the name of responsibility and obligation, I made a habit of telling that little voice to shut it.

Besides, who would’t salivate over the opportunity to get a position that came with perks like a fancy company car, huge salary increase, increased exposure and a chance to control the careers of dozens and dozens of people?

The interviews were scheduled. I bought a new suit and prepared myself with the rigor of an Olympic athlete, making sure I had a brilliant reply for any question they could possibly throw at me.

Except one.

The last executive I spoke to leaned forward in his chair. According to the clock, we were almost done. I could almost picture myself behind the wheel of a brand new baby blue Beemer when he looked me in the eye and asked, “How do you define success?”

“Uh…” I froze. Then I stammered, “Yes. Of course. I would have to say that, uh…”

I clutched the arms of the chair I was sitting in with a white-knuckled grip.

“Getting this job,” was all I could manage to articulate.

I gave him a weak smile and tugged at the collar of my new really expensive blouse, wishing I had left the price tag on so I could return it.

Needless to say, I did not get the job. Happily, that was then; this is now.

During the years in between, I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate my real answer to that question. It goes much deeper than the kind of car I drive, the amount of money I make or the amount of power I have.

It has more to do with how you chose to respond to that sometimes annoying, but undeniably persistent little voice inside, the one that won’t let you go until you pay attention to it.

I finally listened to mine and, for the first time in a long time, I finally feel like I’m on the right track.

I’m not sure what will come of it, but I’ll keep the faith. Who knows? Maybe next time it will say, “Buy a winning lottery ticket.”

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