Thursday, November 13, 2003

Soulful Success

I'm sitting in my tent-cottage at Maho Bay Camps in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Another beautiful sunny day is unfolding. The temperature is about 80 degrees. The turquoise bay, lush green hills, and the tree-frog serenade going on outside my tent fill me with pure peace. This week of retreat, I got to share what I know. That success is a feeling, not to be found by goal-chasing.

In our striving to succeed, we set goals. Common goals like earn more money, build a bigger business, lose some weight, remodel or build that home, buy that boat or car, get more time off. I call these goals “common” because we boil our definition of success down to the same goals everyone else has. We see someone we consider successful and then, rather than looking at how they are experiencing their life, we try to replicate the things they have by setting our own goals. For instance, we say, “If I had a home like that, I too would be successful.” But look at anyone you consider successful. No matter how much or little they possess, if they are happy, joyful, and playful, then I'm betting they have established a goal-free zone around their success.

We have three primary ways of communicating; through our language, through our bodies, and through our emotions. We've been taught over time that language rules. So when asked what success means to us, we tend to respond through language. And, the easiest way to do that is to list our goals. We talk about making moves in our careers, building our businesses, finding the right relationships, moving to the place we want to live, and the ultimate indicator of success, making more money. In fact, most of us correlate success with the goal of lots of money. But the old saying, “Money doesn't buy happiness,” still holds true. And that's true for any of the other goals I've listed here.

It's happiness, joy, delight, relief, playfulness and pure bliss, to name a few, which are true trademarks of success. We can language that we are experiencing these feelings but our bodies and our emotions will be the final indicators of the truth in our statement.

Furthermore, goals are NOT our steps to success, but, rather, success is the path to fulfilling our goals. For example, if success is achieving what your soul intends then success does not come from more money, but money will come as a result of your success. Success is a feeling. Success is a state of being in which we feel a sense of joy, fulfillment, and achievement. And you know what? If you are not paying attention to your soul, success will elude you, no matter how many trinkets you amass.

Stop making excuses. If you're saying, “I’ll be dancing lightly when I achieve my goals,” you're missing out. I say dance lightly now and let your goals come to you out of that joy. Step into your delight, happiness, joy and let success find you. Achieving your goals is merely a byproduct.

"Success doesn't have to pull, tug, or chafe if we wear our real size." ~Sarah Breathnach

"Never continue in a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined." ~Rodan of Alexandria

"The vast majority of people have the deeply entrenched conviction that "success" promotes happiness. But it is not success that promotes happiness. When you genuinely enjoy your life, you are successful in the only real meaning of the term!" ~Tom Russell, singer/songwriter

"I have a 'Play The Melody' philosophy. It means don't over-arrange, don't make life difficult. Just play the melody -- and do it the simplest way possible." ~Jackie Gleason

"Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity." ~Paul Goodman, Author and Poet

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