Over the years, I would take a pause and reflect about the definition of success.
When I was ten my definitions of success were my grades in school, friendships on the play-ground and happy mom and dad, as I grew up these begun to shift and transform.
In my 20s working as a nurse, it was easy to see that for many people overcoming their battle with cancer, getting a new heart valve, or simply giving a birth to a healthy child was a sign of great success. It was visible, tangible and felt in the energy of these people. To a certain degree I associated my happiness and success with witnessing these miracles and having had an opportunity to help someone reach their longing for health, comfort or a peace of mind.
As touched as I was by the work of nursing, after ten years I could not see myself doing it much longer nor did it give me a soul-deep sense of fulfilment I was yearning for. I winded up my career over a short couple years and moved into working with alternative healing modalities. This led me to eventually land in South america, Perú.
Peruvians are friendly and very open, willing to help and support you when necessary. There is a palpable difference in energy when you arrive in Peru at the airport, the latin vibe, humid air, music, and general relaxation can be felt.
This latin warmth sometimes leads to almost no personal boundaries between people, as Peruvians kiss each other on the cheek to greet and part, hug strangers, deal with ease in overcrowded metros and buses and have no problem yelling and expressing passionately their opinions publicly and privately.
This heated latin energy is mixed with a great zeal for their own familial relations.
Latin passion lends itself to everyone. Lima and Cusco are known for their latin night clubs and people look to hook-up for a night, a bit longer or may be forever. Great music, good food, fabulous drinks. Vamos!
As relationships are their primary concern, this does lend to somewhat of a gender stereotype where most women are expected to have children, marry and support their husbands.
Although more career women are seen in the arena of law, communications and banking, it is still a novelty and questioned a great deal by the culture that does primarily give respect to the masculine.
Living in Perú for almost a decade often has proven itself to be somewhat of a challenge where repeatedly I am asked, as to the whereabouts of my husband and children. As my Peruvian sisters confirm it, it is not common at all to see someone alone and happy and so often they think I am either on the way to pick up my child or see my husband.
When conversation is prompted to their dismay they discovery that I am single and enjoying my freedom. People here don’t seem to understand that one could be content and not be in a partnership (or perhaps looking for something very specific) and without a child.
This almost always follows with a statement that I just ‘must’ find a local Peruvian, and perhaps I would like to meet their son or a friend, who hilariously is a head or more shorter than me.
Curiosity takes front seat and questions follow as to WHAT could I be doing if I do not have a man or a child, and would I be interested to go out later for a drink that day (if I am talking with a single man)
I answer people I have my coaching business and work with alternative healing therapies.
For many years this was a big problem for me. I always felt that I am “lesser” sort-of-speak because I don’t have a man or a child that proves my worth in this society. When speaking with Peruvian women they tell me frequently that a single mother with a child (or more) has more respect in their culture than just a single woman.
As that latin women take their pride from their man and from their children, this creates sweet dynamics if relationships are going well and rather disastrous dramas when they are not going so smoothly, sadly there is more of the latter, and with humour and stories they validate this.
All this had me wondering, observing and contemplating for quite some time now, the definition of success.
Why does the ‘American Dream’ seem so prevailing across so many cultures?
Mostly we define success by status someone has and we don’t seem to look a little bit deeper to how that came to be and what does that success entail and beyond the image of this perceived success are they really happy?
Just up north, in the friendly USA money is the biggest thing that everyone wants to have to prove their worth. Here it is not so important if you have a child or a man here the bank account and the new watch you got, number of vacations you take per year are the firm quota for qualifying your success.
The well known film ‘American Beauty’ depicted the american dream as a tragedy of boredom showing us how that dream does need to change.
If we only apply american-dream to every one (and the american culture is infiltrating latin america quickly as here in Peru we now have Starbucks and MacDonalds) then we will be excluding a large part of global population, the same-sex-couples, the religious teachers, and just about everyone in Afghanistan and Palestine, not to mention a large population of Asia and eastern Europe.
So what is success then? Are you wondering?
Is it really the next thing that you are after?
Is it the material, the sexual, the carnal, or the spiritual – gasm ?
Is it really the ‘out-there’ beyond my reach?
or is it perhaps something totally else?
Perhaps our success is much closer than we think.
Perhaps the people whom I witnessed in nursing were the pointing stars to the true north of success. It would seem that success is as individual as people’s personalities.
Let me explain
From all the really successful people I know they know how to give and they know what their gifts are.
The inner gifts, the innate things they were born with that they would exhibit as a child and that continued to adulthood. Usually that gift is so much a part of one’s life that they may not know they have it, it is more like the gift has them and grace is using them for the benefit of all.
We can see that in great artists/yogis/scientists/visionaries like Leonard Cohen, Deva Premal, Shiva Rea, Lynne McTaggart or Jack Canfield.
These people are so fully absorbed by what they are doing and so deeply passionate that it transmits beyond words.
This fabulous miraculous inner brilliance when expressed and given completely brings fulfilment to everyone. It is contagious.
What are the symptoms of true success?
As an example if someone’s gifts are sensitivity, precision and love of music and they are making a living as a bus driver then although their bills may be paid, their soul is still starving for more.
The division of time between money and our soul-purpose is what causes the split and frustration in us.
When we allow ourselves to have our vision take over us completely then grace comes in and money flows in as well.
When we are doing the things we love, with the people we love and the way we love them, and it is benefiting others around us we are full in the heart and can measure our success by this internal feeling of wellbeing.
As I left nursing career and moved into alternative healing modalities it was because my heart yearned for something much more tender and feminine. An expression of both beauty, grace, & sensual wisdom where I can see people through to their successes on a more individual basis, with less trauma and suffering, now that gives me a total rush! So I coach.
Every truly successful person out there knows who they are at the core of their being.
They may have had set backs, they may have had wild adventures, sufferings, illnesses and they always hold on to their vision and a sense of purpose. They seem to overcome all obstacles almost unassumingly and go on to the next thing that holds & supports their vision and passion.
The rest of life spontaneously arranges itself around them in the right-for-them-configuration.
Success can not be measured by the sex someone has, money in the bank or cars they own. It can not be measured by how many children someone has or marriages or partners.
Success is an inner sense of well being, well may be someone cold measure it by the great passionate soul-sex they have 😉
When someone overcomes cancer they have a great sense of success, relief and no amount of financial abundance makes any importance – they are thrilled to be healthy alive and in the arms of the one they love.
When a woman in Palestine gets her education and is able to express her voice that is her very needed success. Moreover when we have and support these successes we are benefiting much more than just this one person, everyone else around lights up.
All these successful people through their courage and bravery make the path for the rest of us to awaken our inner gifts.
So what are we learning from this?
Full circle we are returning back to the heart of the matter. We discover that success is measured by the wellbeing each one has within, and by the joy we get from expressing it. Unobscured by the limiting beliefs we hold, societal standards, religious perspectives. How well we feel in relationship to the life we have is a good indicator of how successful we are.
In freedom of the being who we are, in the courage to shine our hearts and for the benefit of all beings we discover our own success.
I certainly complain less as a coach, smile more, and feel more gratitude for life itself then when I was a nurse.
Living our passions and knowing what our passions are, our gifts and our unique flavour is the success in life.
I am thrilled and excited every time I see a person break through their limiting story about their life, I am excited when people move beyond their fears and residences, when they are living their purpose and vision that betters our world on a whole