"Hey, I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you my kind of success".
So speaks Dicky Fox, mentor to sports agent Jerry Maguire in the film of that name. I've always loved that scene. There's something very reassuring about laid back, white haired grandfather figures who are truly (yet unsmug-ly) comfortable in their own skin. Role models for us all.
I've been mulling a lot about success recently. What is it, and how do you measure it? Typically, society measures success by how well you are doing financially. "I spoke to Auntie Gillian the other day and do you know, her son Ben - you remember Ben, you met him at Uncle Jim's funeral when you were 12, - anyway he has just been promoted and bought a lovely house just round the corner from your friend Annabel. He's doing so well" your mother burbles in your last phone call home.
Of course, Ben has been successful in financial terms, and that's important. We have to be financially responsible for ourselves and our families. But what about other, less tangible measures of success?
One of the questions I ask my clients in my welcome questionnaire is "What are the most important things you want for your life?" Right up there is "time with my family" or "a more balanced life." Yet how often do we really prioritise this? Most full time jobs these days extend well beyond the 9 to 5. We tell ourselves life is expensive so we need to hold down these kinds of jobs, work these sorts of hours. But do we? Perhaps if we had a smaller house, didn't always go abroad for vacations, got a second-hand car, we could afford to work fewer hours, or work at something less profitable but which offered us a richer and more meaningful lifestyle.
Who is more successful, the senior executive earning £100,000+ a year who sees their children on weekends (if they're not travelling), or the new business owner bringing in just a third of that - but choosing to work a 30 hour week on something they really love, and collecting the kids from school each day? I mention the business owner example, because one of the wonderful things about self-employment is the freedom it gives you to structure your life around your priorities.
Admittedly I've chosen a certain direction and I'm biased. I do however recognise that we each see life differently; one size doesn't fit all. So in defining your kind of success, I would simply urge you to listen to your heart. What do you want for your life? Don't just pay lip service to what you hear back. Follow up. Organise your life and work to allow you to enjoy what's important to you. That's success.