What makes someone successful?
I don’t know about you, but it’s a question I’ve often pondered.
Is it the car they drive? The job they do?
Is it the accolades they’ve received or how far up the ladder they have climbed?
The way I’ve come to view success has seriously shifted throughout my life.
I have come to realize that many of the true signs of success have a tendency to be overlooked.
This article will point out the reasons why much of your success has most likely been hiding in plain sight all along.
Of course one of the fundamental issues of defining success is that it is very subjective.
If your idea of it pivots on driving a Ferrari and having a million dollars in the bank — I’m certainly not going to try to convince you otherwise.
Similarly, if your version of success rests upon gaining the recognition of your peers or scoring 1000 more followers on your social media, that’s cool too.
I’m all for goals. They can help us grow as people, and give back to society.
But here’s the problem:
All too often we use them as a beating stick to chastise ourselves.
Very quickly we can end up looking at all the things we feel like we’re not.
All the mountains left to climb and all the people who we fear are doing so much better than us.
And it encourages to overlook how well we’re doing.
That’s why real success has to look beyond the trappings of materialism and ego.
Surely real success needs to rest on the foundations of what will bring us happier and healthier lives.
That’s why, regardless of your situation right now, I strongly suspect you already have so many signs of success in your life.
6 signs you’re actually a more successful man than you realize
1) You have people in your life who care about you
Upon first reading this, maybe can sound like a placater. You know, almost like, ‘well at least you’ve got your health’.
But the truth is that one of the biggest measures of success in our life is the relationships we build.
Put simply, because this is what brings us (and others) most joy.
And surely that means something whenever we’re deciding what a successful life looks like.
That’s why if you have people in your life who truly care about you, then you are a successful man.
I’m reminded of the film classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.
The character George Bailey doesn’t see himself as a successful man.
Whatsmore, he has so many problems that he is considering whether people would be better off without him.
But throughout the film he comes to understand just how significant he is in the lives of others.
He realizes that the legacy of his success lies in the number of lives he has touched.
And he sees this directly through the sheer number of people who care about him.
The moral of the story is that if you have people who truly care about you then you are indeed a rich man.
After all, the value of humanity rests upon the difference we make in one another’s lives.
2) You’re able to feel thankful for what you have
I’ll level with you:
I think we all have our ‘woe is me’ days.
But if you can wake up most days and feel lucky for the life you lead, then you’ve cracked this whole success thing.
Because here’s the thing:
It doesn’t matter how much you earn, achieve, or accumulate if you can’t step back and appreciate it.
Arguably the biggest trapping we can fall into is the “never enough” one.
I’m sure you’re familiar with it:
Whatever you have, whatever you do, whatever you accomplish in life you always feel lacking.
In short: it’s never enough. You’re never enough.
You can always quickly find someone else who you feel is doing better. Or something else you need in order to feel worthy.
Sadly, contrary to what our inner critic may tell us, this has got very little to do with our external environment.
Instead, it’s got everything to do with the framework in which we approach ourselves and the world around us.
Isn’t that a pretty good measure of a successful man?
3) You’ve bounced back
Clearly, I don’t know you.
But I’m still willing to take a gamble and bet that you’ve overcome some adversity in life.
Because the reality is that real life can knock us down.
If you’re still standing then you are a more successful man than you realize.
It can be tempting to give up and admit defeat when faced with rejection and disappointment.
Every single time in life when you have dusted yourself off and got back up again, you have shown strength of character.
Never underestimate the courage and willpower it takes to deal with life’s setbacks.
In the words of self-help author Stephen Richards:
“The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.”
Which brings us nicely on to the next point on our list…
4) You currently suck at something
I bet you weren’t expecting this one.
Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?
I mean, how can success be compatible with failure?
For the simple reason that all success is littered with a string of failure that comes before it.
I recently argued that if you totally suck at something right now, it’s one of the strong signs you’re a lifelong learner.
Because it means you’re willing to give things a go. You will stick your neck out and try.
The people who make a difference in the world — the inventors, the creators, and those who are at the top of their game — didn’t magically succeed.
Often their success was hard-earned.
They pushed past failure and came out stronger on the other side.
They have enough of a growth mindset to realize that it’s ok to suck at something. That it’s actually a part of getting better.
Because it means you’re broadening your horizons and showing a willingness to grow.
If you suck at something, but stick it out — you’re more of a success than you realize.
5) You’ve changed
When you or your life changes over the years it means one incredibly powerful thing:
You’ve grown. And growth is the fuel of success.
It means you’ve left things behind that were no longer good for you or serving you.
It means you have been able to learn lessons and adapt.
You might have changed your mind, or your ideas and beliefs about something.
Perhaps you’ve made more tangible changes in your life — like where you live, your lifestyle, or your priorities.
We don’t always notice the changes in our life. They creep up on us and so we fail to see the growth.
That’s why it can be really helpful to look back over a longer time frame.
Picture the younger you, and now think about all the experiences and learning curves you’ve gone through.
Sometimes that’s when you can really see the progress you’ve made.
Personally at the end of the year, I like to write down all of the things that have happened.
Because on first glance, our lives can feel quite uneventful.
But when we stop to think about all the events and shifts that take place, we realize we’ve made far more progress than we thought.
6) You know, and live by, what you value
I mentioned in the intro to this article that my idea of success has really shifted over the years.
And this is why — I learned to build my life around what was most important to me, rather than what I thought other people expected of me.
Let me explain:
At the age of 29, I was living a settled life, working as a BBC journalist trying to climb the career ladder.
I’d reached an age when you start to think, now what?
As I contemplated the best next steps toward success the answers I came up with didn’t feel right.
I get a “better job” I thought. Ok, so what is a “better job”? I asked myself.
I guess one where I make more money and society views as more important, was my conclusion.
But I felt zero motivation for this.
This realization was the catalyst to finally get to grips with my own set of values and priorities.
That brought with it some pretty big life changes.
What I decided was that what I valued (and what made me happy) wasn’t what I had been chasing.
I’d fallen into the trap of what palliative nurse Bronnie Ware discovered was the biggest regret of people on their deathbeds:
Not living life true to yourself, and instead living it based on what others expect of you.
The point isn’t what you value, that’s going to be different for each of us.
It’s more that your life is shaped by what matters most to you.
In my eyes, that’s the real measure of a successful man .
In the words of Frank Sinatrta, when you can turn around and say “I did it my way”.