To tell you the truth, I’m sick of all this talk of Success. Most of it is just talk! The word “success’ is what’s called in the trade a nominalisation. It means a name, a label, stuck onto a collection of behaviours or actions.
Most of us have some idea of what a person means by ‘success’, but to be honest, I’m not fussed about the words in which we wrap the true meaning of success. I want the contents. I’m not a two year old who likes playing with the paper that pretties up their Christmas presents. I want to get to what’s inside those wrappings.
So what will we have in our hands when the silver bows and Sellotape have been stripped away and the contents revealed? Smart little trinkets that last an hour or two? Another pair of socks I didn’t choose and don’t like? Forget it.
There is something deeper and higher and better than the apparent trinkets of success.
Deeper, higher, better – in that order please.
People who build higher without going deeper end up with a pile of rubble in their lives when crises strike, so I’ve outlined my Top Six ‘presents’ that you might like to imagine stuffed into your next giant Christmas Stocking. They are the equivalent of huge rocks added to the foundations of your future life and for me they support a quality of daily life that has substance. They are massive and will not move once they are in place. You can test them and rely on them. They will serve you very very well. No trinkets in this list, and the first letter of each gives us the mnemonic SALADD:
1. A deep sense of powerful Significance. You and I know just how valuable that is. I want to wake up every morning glad first of all, not that my yacht is in the bay or my posh car is on the drive, but that Andrew Sercombe is alive in the world today and is making an active contribution to its well-being.
2. A fundamental awareness of your Acceptance. This has to be the number one human need, and I’ll keep it short. Acceptance is to hear a fellow human being honestly say “I love you”, to have that priceless sense of being truly welcome, wanted, ‘just as I am’, with or without the glitz of the yacht, or the prestige motorcar – and in case you imagine I think material wealth is somehow second rate or immoral, just let me say the yacht in the bay and the posh car on the drive will be just fine – but they are no substitute for being truly loved, welcomed and wanted.
3. To be able to earn a Living. Yes, able to earn it. I’m glad to be able to earn my living, and want to serve the world well until the day I die. I want to get wiser, smarter, be a better businessman, learn vastly more, and learn how to make the most of the resources I’ve got now. I want to create multiple-win business that means there are no losers. No place here for me sponging off others and being lazy. There is no joy in being the recipient of charity and benefits – believe me, I’ve been there and I felt so degraded. Earning your own living and planning for your own future is highly satisfying. These are also essentials to emotionally healthy lives.
4. The joy of Achievement. How we need to achieve! It is as if it is built into our DNA. The little child stretches for the light switch, and one day the light comes on! The student works towards graduation – and they make it! From the single mum battling to keep the family solvent to the Olympic sprinter obsessed with that all important ‘personal best’, joy comes through doing, stretching, going beyond what we managed last year, last weekend, yesterday. And remember, sometimes it is much easier to take a leap than take small incremental steps.
5. An inspiring Direction. A sense of Purpose – what a present! It lasts a lifetime. Knowing, not so much what life is about, but what your life is about, what you’ve chosen to be the answer to the question”What am I doing here?” There is nothing like being clear about the purpose of your daily actions, knowing for yourself what the deeper meaning of what you are doing is for you. (In Powerchange we run a coaching programme called The Powerchange Experience. It will sort this out for you.)
6. The relief of Discipline. This is the deep satisfaction of deciding on and living within boundaries that give my life form, shape, character and productivity. It’s deciding what I will and won’t value, where and how I want to spend my life, and staying willingly and happily within those healthy constraints. It means I will be leaving good things out so that there is room for even better things. Spread yourself too thinly, water your life down and the result is tastelessness, you become insipid, ineffectual, compromised, weak, unattractive; a colourless, grey life.
So these are my Top Six Foundation Stones: Significance. Acceptance. A Living. Achievement. Direction. Discipline… SALADD! And when the remains of superficial success are carted off to the recycling facility, to be remade into tat for next year’s get-rich-quick shoppers, the lasting success of those who have built their achievements on the indestructible solid-rock foundation stones of a life well lived will remain.
As Marie Antoinette could have more profitably said if she’d only thought, “Let them eat SALADD.” You won’t find anything more undergirding for your future success.