The world is full of successful people. Poke around the Internet and we will see successful thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and self-made millionaires. As we stare at their pictures and scan through their bios, we are humbled by their accomplishments but also a little bit disappointed by our own state of affairs.
Successful people look so happy. They smile into the camera with their white, glittering teeth. They wear nice clothes, drive nice cars, and have beautiful families. Their lives look perfect.
I have no issues with people who flaunt their success on the Internet. More power to them. But we must remember that successful people are good at carefully crafting their brand to showcase the best of their lives because their success depends on it. It’s rare to see a successful person, pose for pictures during their darkest times.
Here is a truth, successful people are not always successful.
The picture we see of a successful person is a snapshot in time. It’s a specific point in their lives. It’s a mirage that hides the fact that even the most successful people in the world have times where they feel like crap.
That goes for all of us. The human experience is a series of ups and downs. Our emotional state, ebbs and flows like the ocean. One moment we are at the top of our game, the next moment we are lost. One moment we can’t fail, the next, we can’t buy a victory. One moment we are popular, the next, we are stalked by critics.
This is known as the seasons of success.
During our high times, success seems easy. The right opportunities comes our way at the right time. Our work gets recognized by the right people. We are energetic, happy, and full of positive energy. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping.
Enjoy it because our success is only momentary, eventually our success will go into hibernation. When it does hibernate, it feels like we are pushing a boulder up a hill. Our economy goes into recession, our emotional life falls into shambles, our physical health begins to fail. It feels as if we will never reach success again.
We cannot allow this bleak look at life to keep us down.
During these low time, we must use it as an opportunity to rebuild ourselves. We can start by asking ourselves some tough questions like - Am I focused on the right things? Am I chasing internal or external goals? Are my dreams really my own? What can I do better? How can I stop feeling sorry for myself?
Out of our self-reflection we will find some general themes of how we can rebuild ourselves.
Build a Tight Bubble of Focus Around Us
Success is the greatest threat to continued success. Why is this?
- Success leads to too many opportunities
- Success breeds complacency
To protect ourselves from the first item, we must become relentlessly focused on doing the things that made us successful in the first place. To stay focused, we must learn to say No to opportunities, to parties, to meetings, to anything that doesn’t bring value to us.
To avoid complacency, we must focus on doing the work. Forget the accolades, the money, the fame. Just put our heads down and do the work.
Insulate Ourselves from Negative Energy
It’s important to be happy if we want to be successful because of the correlation between the two. It’s a relatively unknown secret that happy people are happy because they choose to be happy. Lasting happiness won’t suddenly find us and be there forever. We must work at it.
Most people go about finding happiness in the wrong way. They look for things that bring them joy. Some of these things are good, but some of them are bad (drugs, alcohol, etc). A better approach is to remove the things that are making us unhappy. Stop watching the news. Stop following social media. Stop hanging out with people who are negative. Stop gossiping and spreading rumors. Stop comparing ourselves to others.
If we lack awareness of what makes us unhappy, we must take inventory of things we do each day. What activities do we partake in that make us feel blue? Who do we hang around, that make us feel less happy after? What words come out of our mouths that we regret afterwards?
Once we have an inventory, we can start removing these items from our lives, one by one.
Slowly but surely, as we remove the unhappiness from our lives, we will start to find that being happy isn’t so hard. We spend less time thinking about crap and more time being present in our own lives.
Live to Learn
When we feel down, most of us need just a tiny spark to get us going. Learning is that spark.
Pick up a book. Find a new hobby. Play an instrument. Go to an inspiring event. Get a mentor. Journal about your life.
Learning leads to insight. Insight leads to Ideas. Ideas lead to success.
Here is the grand, underlying theme behind these three ideas… to find personal success we must simplify our lives. By going back to the basics, we have more time and energy to focus on rebuilding our foundations.
Is there anything more important in life than this?