Since I heard author Brian Scott define success in this way, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
The chair I’m sitting on is successful because it’s fulfilling its purpose. I have a couple of chairs in the basement that are broken.
The tree is successful because it is a magnificent tree, offering beauty, oxygen, nourishment, and home to many species. I’ve gone for walks and taken closer looks at each tree, and what I found is that each tree is unique in their own way. Some of their trunks are so “weird,” with characteristics and personalities I hadn’t seen before. Yet each one fulfills it’s purpose.
The watch that I’m wearing is successful as its purpose is fulfilled. I have other watches that are “broken,” and they need to get fixed in order to be successful.
No matter what our lives look like on the outside, you know if you feel broken or not.
Fulfillment comes with the feeling that I am living my purpose. I may not always be clear on what that purpose is; I just know I’m living it by how joyful or how scary it is. When I’m not, when I veer off, I feel it. When I make a decision away from my purpose, I don’t feel fulfilled. I’m tired. I start hurting. I get resentful. I feel broken. I feel like I am living for someone or something else. I feel like I’m wasting my time, and this has nothing to do at all with feeling productive, because fulfillment has to do with feeling the utmost joy. Sometimes that comes after I felt completely afraid, leaning into my vulnerability, thinking about if I can bear the judgment. It’s scary to step outside of normal.
The social icons that we know that inspire us so much, I don’t believe that they got there because they are any more special, or because it was their fate. No. Their fate was just like everyone else’s: to be normal. They got there because they had the courage to embarrass themselves, risk the humiliation, risk losing something, and decided to own their “abnormal” anyway. It turns out, they weren’t so abnormal. They only spoke on behalf of what we all feel so intimately, and they had the courage to own it. By owning the part of themselves that so many of us are afraid to unleash, they made their destiny. Their purpose became fulfilled. They became successful.