In the first part of this blog post we chatted about how we measure success. Here is the second part of the post on how we define success, I hope you enjoy it:
When you think about the word “successful” – who’s the first person that comes to mind? For some, it maybe someone famous like Richard Branson or Oprah, or perhaps it’s a mentor that has been successful by your definition of success. Here is a story of why this can sometimes be a tricky and a slightly loaded question.
After high school, I travelled and lived in London for a few years. On my second visit, I stayed in a youth hostel until I found a job and permanent place to live. The first night I moved into the 12 sleeper mixed dorm in Bayswater, I met a South African who, at a guess, was the same age as my Dad at the time (around 50).
“I’m Gareth”, I introduced myself.
“Tony,” said the rather scruffy looking man.
As the days went on I got to know Tony, in very brief encounters as we both worked different hours, me in a restaurant and him in a casino in Leicester Square, cleaning ashtrays. “WTF, cleaning ashtrays and living alone for months on end in a hostel, get your shit together old man”, I thought. At his age, he needed to have a wife, kids, a decent job and be on his way to building for his retirement. Tony, I had decided was filed in the “loser” box.
One evening when I got home early from work the other residents of our 12 sleeper dorm were out and just Tony sat on his top bunk writing in a notebook.
“Hey boss” I said to him.
“Hey Gareth, welcome home. Are you not working this evening?”
I explained to him that I had the evening off and I was planning to stay in.
“Join me for a beer”, he said and offered a tall can from the 6-pack he’d already started. As we sat and chatted I asked him questions about his life and if he had any plans to get married and have a family, the things that had lead me to put him into a specific category when I met him.
“I was married once it didn’t work out and we never had kids together. I guess I’m just a bit of a loner and really enjoy spending time on my own. So now I live and work in London doing a job that pays the bills and allows me to save, I stay in this hostel because it’s cheap and the people are nice. I save enough money each winter working in the casino to allow me to walk and camp along the canals in Holland by myself for the summer, and I’ve never been happier“.
The last part of his sentence hit my like a steam train. I had judged this guy to be a complete drop-out, obviously on the wrong path, and not managing to get his life together, when actually Tony, in his own way, had his life more together than some of the people that I deemed to be “successful”. I felt sick, how many more times had I done this in my life in the past: put people into a box because they had not met my definition of “success” or “happiness”?
When you look at your own life ensure that you measure your success by things that are important to you and do the things that make you happy.
Have you ever thought about travelling the world, working on a cruise liner or a private yacht?
Over the next week, we are going to talk about “Working on Water”, chatting to people that have seen the world and made money at the same time working on yachts or ships. If you’ve ever dreamt about this, join the group now and post any questions you have to the people that area already out there doing this!