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.Â If you are not familiar with this group, itâ€™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.Â But it is also nerve wracking and takes a lot of preparation, so I was honored to take first place in the Area Contest.Â When it all was over, there were lots of pictures taken, and many congratulatory hugs.Â 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.
â€œCongratulations! What did you win?â€
I quickly responded, â€œWell, now I advance to the next level and I compete with different speakers.â€
â€œYeah, but what did you win?â€
My response wasnâ€™t so quick this time, â€œWell, I get satisfaction knowing that I did my best and that the audience and judges identified with my speech.â€
â€œI mean, how much money did you win?â€
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 didnâ€™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 Iâ€™m determined to be the best I can be.Â And that day, competing in that contest, I was able to share my passion with the audience and the judges. Â 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: “SuccessÂ is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
That spells success for me.