Focus More on Ingredients, Less on Directions

PotatoSalad1“Potatoes, mayo, eggs, onion, vinegar, pimentos, relish, celery, salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.” My mother rattled off  the ingredient list for her mashed potato salad, a family favourite.

“How much of each?” I was ready. Pen poised to scribble down the famous recipe.

“Depends on you.” Wait. What?

“Okay, so how do you make it?” I asked for clarification and she once again uttered the less than helpful statement.

Or so I thought. Once again, my mother had hidden a life lesson in three words.

What’s your recipe for success? Do you have one? Or is it one you’ve jotted down from a source only to revise it when you locate something better?

I am a self-improvement junkie. I read books on how to make the most of my mornings or how to be an introvert in an extroverted universe. I subscribe to magazine that empowers entrepreneurs. My tablet reader is filled with articles on how to make the most of my time or unplug from technology. I listen to speeches on the power of choices or how our attitude influences our views.

Each writer, speaker or post has this subtle, subconscious tagline that says “I’m going to serve up to you the recipe for success.”

Well, if it worked for them . . . it should work for me. Even better, they did the hard work. I just have to implement it.

But in reality, they only share their personal ingredient list for their own famous side dish of life. They are sharing THEIR success story or definition of success.

What is often forgotten when we step into the kitchen to create our own menu for life is that we have a different set of expertise, likes, history, experience and views.  Even if my mother had given me the exact recipe for her famous Mashed Potato Salad, mine would taste different. I dig the zing spicy mustard can add to the side dish.

We are all looking for that secret success recipe. We seek input on what worked for someone else or the next step that will ensure success.

The recipe for success is what is inside each of us. It’s the ingredients we pick up on the way such as history, experience and self-improvement TEDTalks. It is learning how to bounce back from rejection or failure. It is how you inspire others. It’s how you view the world. It’s integrity.

The key is to focus on what you have rather than how to do it. Having the key ingredients will ensure a masterpiece.

Depends on you.

Thanks, mom.

What’s Your Definition of Success? I Finally Found Mine

What is your definition of success? How will you know you are performing at your peak? That you reached your goal?

In my five-year plan, I will be a successful bed and breakfast owner. Each day, I will serve up tasty morning kitchen creations to guests who found overnight comfort in my deluxe accomodations with an oceanview. I will greet people from around the world seeking escape from their daily chaos while sharing a bit of my coastal home town hospitality. I will work from home, while sharing it with strangers, and indulge my inner artist to create unique, custom dishes.

About a year ago, I was listening to a webinar given by one of my favorite leadership and business gurus, Darren Hardy (Publisher of Success Magazine). His webinar centered around the idea of taking your goals, dreams to the next level. It was about dreaming big and the steps one could take to bump up their level of success such as making an investment in your education (college, etc).

During the online event, Mr. Hardy gave specific examples where the average Joe could take his life, business to one of greater achievement. One of these examples was a coffee store owner who could take it further by turning his store into a nationwide chain.

My Personal Key to SuccessThat example stuck with me. In my mind, it is very important to recognize that owning your own business, even just one lone coffee shop or cat-sitting operation, is a level of success. It is a goal or a dream realized. It is a major accomplishment to see the vision in your head develop into a reality.

But is it? Does my three-room bed and breakfast dream fall short of success if it doesn’t become a chain of five-star hotels? If my name isn’t written in neon lights across the top of the 20 floor building, am I not going the distance?

While that may not have been the direction Mr. Hardy was going, it did inspire me to explore my working definition of success.  What does success mean to me?

It appears I’m not the only one. Adriana Huffington recently launch The Third Metric on her Huffington Post site. According to the page, “The current model of success — which equates success with burnout, sleep deprivation, and driving ourselves into the ground — isn’t working.” Adriana made this realization after she broke her cheekbone and gashed her eye as a result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep.

During a promotional tour in Philadelphia for her new book, Thrive, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, said “We’re all living under the collective delusion that to succeed, you need to work 24/7.”

Perhaps it is fear that feeds our frenzy. We’re afraid of being left behind. Of missing out. Of being overlooked for promotions and bonuses. Of having to sacrifice our wants, like a new car or vacation to Venice, because our needs (mortgage, groceries, bills) take center stage.

We’re spinning our wheels to keep up with The Jones’ (next door and in the next cubicle) only to learn that they are doing the same to keep up with us.  In short, we are all trying to live up to a definition of success that none of us feels committed to, but continue to push ourselves because we believe that is the qualifier for happiness. For living the best life possible.

But what is that? Where does this path of success take us? Perhaps the better question that we should all ask ourselves is — do I want to go?

According to leadership author and speaker, John Maxwell, success is a “journey rather than a destination. No matter how long you live or what you decide to do in life, you will never exhaust your capacity to grow toward your potential, nor will you run out of opportunities to help others. When you see success as a journey, then you never have the problem of trying to “arrive” at an elusive final destination.”

Perhaps it isn’t about the “rat race” or treadmill that all of us at one time or another gets stuck on.  Perhaps it more about living from a place of authentic joy and less about fueling our fears.  It’s about enjoying the jog  rather than the “grind.” Maybe its time to talk a walk and skip the usual success rut. Get out of the cubicle maze and blaze your own path to success.

For me, success is a bit more internal. It isn’t something that can be measured by change in my bank account, number of followers on social media or even how many toys are in my front year.  It is about being content with the direction I am taking, using each day to maximize my abilities and sharing my unique light with others.

And, my bed and breakfast matches my definition to the “B”!

What’s your definition of success?