Why We Need To Change What It Means To Be Successful

Here’s what it really means to be successful.

I’m going to give my age away early. I’m 24. I don’t have seven figures in the bank, I don’t have a mortgage, and you know what? I don’t even have a car. Let me tell you something, though:

I’m successful.

I’m not following the ‘seven steps to success’ article you may have read else. And, I’m not doing the ‘five things I MUST consider to be successful’ article either. But most importantly perhaps, is that I’m not comparing myself to you, whoever you are.

Why would I?

Why would the life I live make me more successful than you?

See, I do a few things: I’m an international speaker, founder of DRYVER, and even an author. The thing about my life is that there is very little structure and hardly any predictability. If you’ve seen the Jerry Seinfeld bit about public speaking, you’d know that public speaking is such a fear that statistically people would rather be in the box at the back of the room than giving the eulogy as it is rated a higher fear than death.


But here is the thing. I love it. I love my life, the craziness of being on some 90 flights this year, and never being in the same place for more than a few days at a time.

Something tells me you don’t think that is successful.

Hey. That’s ok!

Because for me, success has always been something that has been tied to financial status, education level, material accumulation, and the title of the jobs we hold.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against any of those things, I’m just saying that at no point in my life am I going to be in an office crunching numbers for 90 hours a day to make a quarter million a year. That isn’t happiness to me. That isn’t successful for me. I just couldn’t do it.

That said, I also couldn’t teach a class of 7-year-olds, couldn’t work in a hospital, wouldn’t be able to do the work associated with holding a Police badge, and couldn’t do the work do be a Lawyer.

Here is the beauty of the world we live in.

You might love the things I don’t. And I might love the things you don’t. This is why we can be equally successful but in completely different ways. We can both find happiness through the work we are doing and the lives we are able to live as a result.

So why is is that we suggest that success is the same for one person as it might be for another?

Why is it that we fail to consider happiness when we think about success?

Why is it that if I walk down a path that society tells me isn’t ‘the norm’, that I’m perceived as less successful?

I write this because we all have an opportunity to be our own kind of successful. But I also write this because I want to give a little more substance than to just tell you to ‘blaze your own trail’ or to ‘follow your dreams’.

This is 2016. Instagram account are full of motivational quotes. Tweets ‘inspire’ us from those who we dream to be, and Facebook content repeatedly tells us that the people around us are happier than we are, and we default to thinking that we are inferior, that we need to do better, and we become anxious as a result.

I think hard about the posts I see, the job descriptions that are being posted, and the path that I’m walking down. In most cases, the content I see online and the smiles and laughs I see might not be as big if I were in the same place as they are.

And so I try and approach things a little different.

I strive not to be doing what they’re doing, I strive to chase the happiness I see in their faces knowing that I can achieve that same happiness in my own way. This, to me, is success.

I’m not on the pursuit of happiness; I’m trying to find happiness in the pursuit. If I can live a life that allows you and I to do so, I think we can both be our own kind of successful.

I’m on my path and proud of it. I’m working on being happy, and finding success through the life I’m able to live. My hopes are that if we can change the conversation on success, we can all live a happier life.


Written by Eric Termuende

Eric Termuende is founder of the DRYVER Group., a consultancy focused on the the attraction and retention of top talent. In 2015, Eric was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 globally by American Express. He sat as Community Integration Chair for Global Shapers Calgary, a community that functions under the World Economic Forum. Eric is a former Canadian G20 YEA Delegate, representing Canada in Sydney in 2014. In 2016, Eric spoke at TEDxBCIT in Vancouver giving his presentation entitled ‘Bigger than Work’. Eric has worked and spoken with clients across the world for the National Speakers Bureau, and was VP Operations and Finance for the University of Calgary Students Union and Class Ambassador for his graduating class. Finally, Eric currently sits on the Vancouver Board of Trade Company of Young Professionals Board.

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