The purpose of this segment is to talk about the word “success”. Not only do I want to talk about how we view it in the workplace and in our personal lives, but I want to change the way we discuss it in general. Success is not and should not be considered a one size fits all category. Speaking from the perspective of a working member of the United States, as well as being born and raised here, we seem to have the idea that if we are not what we culturally view as successful, then we are nothing worth celebrating.
The reason I wanted to delve into this topic is twofold:
I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick of people asking the question “what’s next?”. I just spent five years of my life working and going to school, finally graduated, and tied in first place with “Congratulations” is the question “So, now what are you doing?”. If we could change the discussion on progression, work or personal life wise, we could change the way we view our own lives, was well as others. Let me give you an example. Instead of asking the question “So, what’s next?”, I would ask the question of “What have you been working on recently?”. Not only does that question allow the other validation of the things they have accomplished in the past, but it allows them to go into the discussion of what’s to come on their own terms.
I believe that in phrasing the question in this format, it would also reduce the negative thoughts that come with comparison. When you ask someone what’s next, it’s really all hypothetical. They can tell you just about anything, whether it be that it’s genuinely happening or that they’re just hopeful that it’s going to happen. With this comes the inevitable moment where we hear all about how perfectly this other persons’ life is lined up, followed by a swift kick in the gut of jealousy and anxiety over not being in that same position ourselves. When we ask the question “what have you been working on recently?”, or anything of the sort, we get to hear an explanation about the work they are doing, or have done, in order to get to where they are now, which allows for a much more realistic form of communication and decreases the chance that we can directly compare ourselves to that individual. This leads me to my second point.
Not only would I like to change how we ask about an individual’s success, but also, how we portray that success. Success does not have to mean you’re sitting at the dining room table of your massive estate, surrounded by hundred-dollar bills, maids and chefs at the ready. Although that may be some individual’s definition, some people view success as where you are right now. Whether you’re currently a college graduate, a doctor, a teacher, a janitor, a student, etc., there are people everywhere who would love to be in your exact situation. Let’s stop downplaying certain titles, such as the stigma surrounding only holding a minimum wage job. In order to break the stigma surrounding career choice, I want to talk to individuals of all career types that can be viewed as successful. Not only am I going to celebrate the victories of how they got to where they are today, but I am going to highlight the moments where they never thought they would get to this very moment. The moments where their idea failed, they lost their job, they were told no, they had an unexpected turn of events, or plain old just had no idea what they were doing or why they were doing it. These are what I like to call the “oh f**k” moments, hence the title of the segment.
I want everyone to be able to celebrate where they are in life right now, at this very moment. I want us to look back and see the things we have accomplished in the past week/month/year, rather than the things we failed to get done. I want it to be clear that every single one of us struggles in many different ways but still come out successful because we are still here, trying our best to be the person we’ve always dreamt of being. Let’s start looking at the similarities in our stories rather than the differences.