I used to have this hateful mantra in my head, probably from years of dancing and trying to get my hips to turn out into a perfect first position, “If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t right.” Have you ever done this to yourself? Have you ever measured your success based on this pre-conceived notion that drudgery is a form of progress? Pain is one of those things that we can never share with another human being. We can empathize, but I can’t feel the burn when you stub your toe as much as you can’t feel the sharp pang of my headache. It's an internal calibration for us. It's a secret that lets us know we have gone too far or we are in danger.
But too many times, we use pain and other hateful mantras as internal metrics of success where they don’t serve us. Take your work, for example. Do you have this one attached to your everyday?: “I have to pay my dues. If it’s easy, it doesn’t count.” These quiet mindgames we play are more dangerous than we think. All of a sudden we’re judging our success based on how painful and difficult it all feels. And if you’ve ever attempted to be an open, uninhibited creator of amazingness, you know that pain and hardship are your number one blocks. So why do we put them up so high on this pedestal?
We are playing by a worn out set of rules. We have got to restructure the game. We have to re-define our personal metrics of success. How do you know when you have succeeded? Strike being in pain, strike struggle. Insert the feelings of joy, abandon, connection, liberation, surprise.
Hell, let’s get more practical. If you use money as a metric of a success (as we all do to some extent), give me a number. Let’s not use arbitrary “wealth” - after all wealth includes more than just money. The bottom line is:
Get clear so that when success does come your way, you don’t miss it.
When we have been unconscious for so long, it’s hard to come up with our metrics. We have to clear the cobwebs off our headaches and our stubbed toes and our paying of dues and replace them with something else. Because breathing life into your master plan should fill you up, not hold you back. And when you dive in whole-heartedly to the pursuit of your most creative work, your success should be calibrated by your metrics.
Think or write your answers to these questions. If you write, I find this really fun to come back to later on down the road. You evolve and so will your metrics.
What is one success you have had that no one (or very few people) knows about?
How did that success make you feel?
What about the work made you feel this way?
Boil that sentence down to one word.
This is your very first metric of success.
Share your metrics with me down below in the comments. Let's create a community of words that liberate.
Photo via Craig Hanson Photography.