Last week I met a student at a networking session and he asked me something I hadn’t really thought about in a while: “What do you think success is?”
I actually paused and looked closely in his eyes, trying to understand what he wanted to hear. I cleared my throat and answered, “ask a thousand people the same question and you’ll find just as many different answers. The meaning of success is different for everyone, based on their experiences and goals in life. To me, being happy and content with myself and being able to understand myself and the people around me is success.”
The same night before going to bed, the question hovered over my head and unwillingly I had to think about it and give myself an answer.
I had a hard time recalling the last person I met who wasn’t a part of the race to be better than someone else but was rather content with what he had. Schooling and education is supposed to broaden our thinking and teach us to look at the bigger picture but, unfortunately, in the last couple of decades, the desire to be “successful” has made us amend the definition of success
As a matter of fact, most people say they want success but, in reality, they have no idea what they really want. Being content with what you have does not equate to not desiring more or not aiming high. Everyone is unique and blessed with special talents and qualities that he/she is better at than everyone else. What distinguishes people from one another is their ability to find that special quality in themselves and to build upon it.
To be irreplaceable you have to be different. To be different you have to discover that special quality in yourself. The only competition you have is the competition with yourself. You should be analyzing yourself on a regular basis, trying to be a better person than you were yesterday.
One of the greatest feelings is the happiness you achieve in helping others, watching them succeed because of your little help or push. To me, that’s success: seeing someone else succeed because of your help or influence.
It is impossible to be happy with ourselves if we keep worrying about others; there will always be someone better than you, someone smarter than you, someone prettier than you. But remember, no one can ever be you. No one can ever be better than any other human being; you can only be better than who you were yesterday.
I hope someday each one of us will stop competing with one another and start complimenting each other.
As Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Sharique Khan is a motivational speaker and a blogger. He blogs at Jobpostings, Canada Pakistan Professional Association, and at shariquekhan.com. He hopes to continue inspiring people through his writing and helping them succeed in their endeavours. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn.
This post originally appeared on Jobpostings, August 30, 2013.