Seeking success

003SuccessA couple of weeks ago I had a Tarot card reading done and a lot of interesting points came up, but one of the recurring themes was success. The Tarot reader highlighted that I come across as someone who competes for success and that I often think I must perform to achieve it. “In reality”, she explained, “the fortune is already yours. It’s not about what efforts you put out – but rather – in finding your self attributes in the ‘now’ which you possess that make you feel successful”.

As the reading came a day after I was offered a potential new role at work, I found it very timely to ponder my views on success. What does it mean to me? When have I been successful? What has been the key to it? What are my next projects in which I would like to succeed? The thought that struck me was that the fear of not being successful is what seems to stop or at least slow me down in running towards the direction of some of my current ideas and projects. Upon closer examination, I realised that this fear seems to stem far less from any doubts I might have of my own abilities, but much more from thoughts about how talented and already successful are ‘others’! It would seem that at some point I must have acquired a belief that the ‘quantity’ of success on this planet is limited. In other words, if there are already 35 successful astrophysicists, it follows that there is no space for the 36th one. And the same rule then must apply to any profession or activity I could possibly choose – there will always be someone already doing it successfully and therefore that supposedly limits my chances of success. Curiously, I don’t remember thinking that me getting a high grade at school was less likely if someone else got one too, so when did I acquire this belief? And could it possibly be true? And if it is, does it apply in all spheres of life, not just the career choices?

When it comes to success in love and relationships, for example, I don’t believe in the limitation of ‘the chances are smaller because the good ones are already taken’. If anything, seeing people in successful and happy relationships was what inspired me to believe that it was possible for me. Once the initial bitterness and resentment wore off after my last break-up, I wrote a vow for myself to start blessing other people’s relationships. This meant that when I saw a young kissing couple on the metro, I started deliberately replacing the first thought of ‘get a room and enjoy it while it lasts!’ to ‘this moment is a proof that love does exist – I wish them unending happiness together’. For me this was a radical shift from letting other people’s success in love be a reminder of my failure, to actually seeing it as a proof that love is possible. And in fact, if we are all one and connected, then in that very moment it already exists for me too because the couple in front of me is also the extension of all that is. And then I met my amazing husband and have lived happily ever after.

In my academic years, there was only one moment when I vividly remember doubting my success. This was after reading my classmate’s distinction-worthy dissertation ‘poverty reduction strategy processes as political arenas: changing power relations’. To this day it remains in my memory as the most academically solid and dense piece of writing I have ever read. And even though I could not really understand the intense complexity of it, I could understand why it merited a distinction. I used her writing as an example which inspired me to do well on my own work, once again transforming someone else’s success to mine.

I don’t think there can be any competition in the arena of health and healing, for example – the healthier we are individually, the more vitality and wellness this brings to us collectively. The success stories of others’ healing have been what inspired me hugely and have helped me make changes in my own lifestyle.

So why am I intimidated by the success of others when it comes to the choice of career or work activities? I decided to talk to my husband about this and further examine my belief about success in what we do being limited by the success of others. “If I were to believe that I shouldn’t do things that I enjoy if I cannot be successful at them”, he shared, “I would miss out on doing so many things. I would never play football, for example, after seeing all those amazing players on TV. If something makes you happy, you should just do it no matter who can do it better than you. After all, the only competition is with yourself.” He challenged me to think whether I honestly thought that there was not a single person on this planet more qualified than me to do my current job. And yet here I am doing it! The point he was trying to make was that one does not have to be the best to do something successfully, “the Beatles were not the most technically advanced musicians in the world and the Spice Girls were not great singers, and yet both bands had successful careers”.

While I still need to spend a little bit more time being present with my limiting belief, I am more confident in knowing that it does not have to be true for me or anyone else. The comments of both – the Tarot reader and my husband – resonate with me very much. The key to achieving success is twofold: following that what truly brings joy with no expectation and seeking out that which already in the present moment feels like success. So cheers to doing what we love and loving what we do!

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