How do you spell success?
I was recently forced to face my own definition of success. You see, just a couple of days ago, I won a speech contest held by Toastmasters. If you are not familiar with this group, it’s a non-profit organization that helps individuals develop their public speaking and leadership skills.
They hold numerous contests throughout the year, and the one I entered was the International Speech Contest. I have to admit that it was fun because I get to compete against my peers, who are pretty awesome speakers. But it is also nerve wracking and takes a lot of preparation, so I was honored to take first place in the Area Contest. When it all was over, there were lots of pictures taken, and many congratulatory hugs. I was bursting with pride, and when I walked into my club meeting later that evening, I was met with applause and kudos from my peers.
But the next morning, as I was still basking in the glory of my win, I told several people about my success.
“Congratulations! What did you win?”
I quickly responded, “Well, now I advance to the next level and I compete with different speakers.”
“Yeah, but what did you win?”
My response wasn’t so quick this time, “Well, I get satisfaction knowing that I did my best and that the audience and judges identified with my speech.”
“I mean, how much money did you win?”
NOW I GET IT!!! It finally hit me that my win was not considered a success unless there was a dollar sign attached to it.
Now I didn’t feel so successful anymore.
It took me some time to think through my reaction to this exchange of words, and a heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend of mine, and I finally came to the conclusion that this time, for me, money was not the end goal. My success came from knowing that I found something I love to do, that I followed my passion, and that I’m determined to be the best I can be. And that day, competing in that contest, I was able to share my passion with the audience and the judges. I was able to bring some joy into their lives as well as my own.
So today, I am reminded of the words of Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
That spells success for me.