What our I realised when asked: “What does success mean to me?”
Last week I had the pleasure of being asked to be a guest speaker for International Women ‘s Day at our local business centre the Stretton Centre.
I completed my delivery and after listening to two other amazing women in business in the local community, all three of us were asked during the Q&A, What does success mean to me?”.
Totally unprepared I answered, “Success to me is seeing my kids, my husband, my family, my friends and my team happy. Not happy as in smiling all the time, but knowing they are supported and empowered, and for my kids to see me as a good role model so that they can achieve anything they want in life knowing I will 100% support them.”
I walked away thinking, OMG, out of all the answers I could have given, what the hell was that! I’m pretty sure I could have answered saying that success to me in business is financial freedom, flexibility. I could have thought about promoting my business, my services and this is what I came out with. I truly shocked myself with my answer (and probably some of the audience).
But I’ve been stuck on the answer ever since, I had no idea where it came from or why, until I realised, this is exactly what success means to me.
I love what I do, almost too much at times. I love what I do so much that during my recent 6 weeks of leave I had no idea what to do with myself. I had nothing else in my life. I spent the time reconnecting with my kids, my husband, my family, my friends and most of all myself.
I realised that I needed to seriously slow down. I realised how much my passion for work had become my obsession, and how it had been unhealthy for me. I became a “calm” mum again, the one I’d been reaching for since my son was born. I became the “understanding” mum, wife, friend and boss. I started looking after myself, eating right and regularly exercising by going to the gym, exercising and taking walks. By the time I went back to work I was ready for the year to slow down.
The holidays ended in February this year and I went straight from 0 to 200km in less than 5 days. I couldn’t keep up, I couldn’t sustain my pace any more. I realised I’d always ran at 100 miles an hour but I didn’t feel the full spin of the ride until I got back on it.
My husband had recently started his own business venture, pursuing full time work commitments. It was his time to pursue his passion. I was committed to running my business whilst ‘slowing down’. Being the mum that would do the morning reading for my sons first year of school, school pick ups, sports, maintain home life and keep looking after myself and supporting my husband's new venture.
Who was I fooling, the seams soon came apart and it became difficult to keep on top of it all. But, for the first time in a really long time, I stopped and realised that things were falling apart. Instead of my usual ‘push through and sacrifice myself’ I kept telling myself, ‘You have to slow down’.
Which brings me to the reason this is all so relevant to that one question last week, ‘What does success mean to me?’. Its because success isn’t money for me or freedom and flexibility or working with small business owners. It's doing what I love because I created my business from the beginning to give me these things and I’m both lucky and grateful that it has provided these things for me for a long time (off and on). I think I was chasing the wrong kind of success. I was once chasing success so I could be the best in a race that included no one else but me but I always felt like I was falling behind everyone else (and sometimes still do). But I now realise that true success for me is doing what I love and how I like on my terms. Being the mum I want to be, the wife, the friend, the boss and the person I have wanted to be for a really long time, but most of all success to me is having the option to ‘slow down’ and to put being my best-self first.
Vanessa Bamford, Director, Vision Beyond Business