The Counselling Shed
Michael Palin was recently speaking on the radio about his friendship with the late Spike Milligan.
When asked about the great success he’d had earlier on in his life with The Goons Show, Spike apparently said to Michael, ‘oh, it was like one fine summer’.
And I know what he meant…. because when we consider successful moments from the perspective of a life span we cannot hold on to our successes.
Like the ever changing seasons, life moves on!
Related to the theme of success is this quote by Churchill:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
“Success is not final” is the salient point to highlight here.
If we experience some kind of success in life – successfully passing an exam, winning a prize, publishing an article or book, getting a promotion, getting a part in the play etc. – just a few examples – whilst they are moments to be celebrated and cherished, we cannot hold on to these successes because life moves on.
Success does not redeem us.
We do not find our ultimate salvation in success.
Despite this, many of us try to use success as a way of trying to plug the feeling that we have deep down inside, of not being enough… ‘if I am successful’, so goes the thinking, ‘then… then I will feel that I am enough’.
Without being aware of it, many of us go through life thinking that the next piece of work, the next completed project, the next book I publish, the next client I get, the next building I design, the next promotion I get, the next match I play, the next million I make, the next race I win, the next exam I pass and so on and so on… that will give me the ultimate salvation that I am seeking so that finally, I will feel that I am enough: finally I will feel valued and loved and appreciated.
But life really isn’t like that – we may have moments of success along the way, but viewed from the perspective of a life span, they are, as Spike Milligan said, like fine summers. Just as we cannot bottle up the good weather, we cannot bottle up success, we cannot capture it, success is not final… life moves on.
Now on the one hand there is nothing wrong with being successful – indeed success is definitely to be celebrated. But, and it is a big butt, the problem with pursuing the path of relentless success is that it will never be enough – the same with trying to make ourselves rich enough, clever enough, big enough, small enough etc. The path of relentless striving becomes an addictive obsession that is never satisfied. Yet many of us are unaware that this dynamic is going on in the background of our lives.
I had a friend who published an article, he was pleased for a while but not totally satisfied, then he published a book. He was satisfied for a while but then wanted to write and publish a book that sold better internationally. The same happened. He then wanted to write a best seller and be invited on radio programmes to talk about it and then, like JK, he wanted someone to buy the film rights…. and so on and so on.
“the problem with relentlessly pursuing success is that it will never be enough”
The seeds of relentlessly pursuing success are often sewn young. With the obsession with top grades at School, the relentless pursuit of success is encouraged. Rather than School children feeling that doing their best and learning for learnings sake is enough they are encouraged down the path of relentlessly pursuing success.
In my counselling role I have seen a lot of young people who feel exhausted before their adult lives have really even gotten started. They’ve felt a pressure to get A’s in their GCSE’s, then in their A levels, then at University – the push to get a first, because if you get a first then you’ll get a good job. Oh but now a Degree is not enough and so now I need a Masters… and then I need to get the high-ranking job… and it’s like all of this has been building up to the idea that this ‘good job’ will make you happy – and then of course you need to demonstrate how successful you are in that job… and then what car do you drive, and where do you live, and what’s your house like, and how are your children doing at School – and so it starts again.
Exhausting! Exhausting! Exhausting!
Now let me be clear – I am not saying that success is bad and I am not saying do not be successful.
Be successful by all means – and in the pursuit of success many people find things like Coaching, Motivational Mentoring, Positive Psychology etc. to be of support.
However, if you are striving for success in an attempt to feel good enough about yourself – as many of us unconsciously do – then it might be worth you delving a little deeper inside yourself to examine your beliefs about yourself.
Do you value yourself?
Do you accept yourself, just as you are, right now?
Are you harsh or critical about yourself or are you compassionate with yourself?
Do you feel that you are somehow not enough or do you feel comfortable in your own skin?
Are you clear about what you really want and need?
Rather than reach for coaching or mentoring, counselling can support you to understand what your beliefs about yourself are. Counselling can help you to understand where these beliefs have come from and it can support you to work out where you want to go next.
Constantly seeking more is not the solution and it leads to a life of dissatisfaction, burnout and inauthenticity.
Look, if your life is becoming intolerable because of the relentless pursuit of success (or of money or fame or whatever it is for you) then reach out and let me support you to develop authentic acceptance of who you already are.
Get in touch now: M: 07757 859650 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
In my book, self-acceptance and authenticity or in other words, being comfortable in your own skin, well this is the ultimate mark of success!!