Dear Ms. Huffington,
I was very excited to see news about the Huffington Post’s first-ever women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.” I was even more excited when I read your blog post yesterday asking for readers to join in on the conversation about redefining success.
As a mother, wife, and working woman, I often struggle with defining exactly this — what does it mean to be successful? And the reason I struggle is not because I don’t have a sense of what fulfills me or satisfies my heart. It is because these things are constantly changing.
Success one day, for example, means my three kids and I have managed to make it through the day with only 2 spilled drinks, 5 arguments over what to watch on tv, and 3 Phineas and Ferb Band-Aids (and maybe, just maybe, I was able to get a shower); success another day means I’ve made all of my work deadlines; success yet another day means my husband and I were able to share a dinner together and have an uninterrupted adult conversation.
All of this is to say that I don’t think you can have just one definition of success. (And by “you” throughout this letter, I’m referring to all of us — the “royal” you, so to speak.) Success is going to be defined differently by different people. And at different stages of their life. For me it’s akin to trying to define what makes a good parent — you can’t really. With so many differences in parenting styles — breast vs. bottle feeding, circumcision vs. no circumcision, co-sleeping vs. separate beds — the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is listening to your heart and doing what works best for you and your family.
If you impose a specific definition on things such as what makes a good parent or what it means to be successful, then, you’re going to have a lot of people trying to achieve something that may not work for them. And after struggling to fit themselves into a definition created by someone else, they will see themselves as failures.
Sadly, I feel like too many people see themselves as failures these days instead of realizing that they are doing the best they can. They are successful. They’re just not using the best metric by which to measure their success — themselves.
So for me, the definition of success is really the knowledge that there is no one definition of success. What it means to be successful changes from person to person. And within each person this definition can change from day to day, from minute to minute. And that’s ok. This realization, this knowledge, this is success.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts on such an important topic. I hope the conference is amazing, and I look forward to hearing about all of the great things that come from it.
All the best,