It's easy for me to be happy for someone's success if they've succeeded at something that I either (a) have not the slightest interest in attaining or (b) I know that I would be dreadful version of that talent or gift. Like an Olympic athlete. If the person I see as successful is not running my race (or one similar to it) then I'm all in. Go Dog, Go.
But here's where my happiness and enthusiasm gets a little bumpy. If someone's success is similar to my version of success, then my core is happy for them, but I have to work through several layers of jealousy, the "why-not-me-s" and the "not fair-s."
Think of those times when we start looking to the side to find out where the perceived winner is rather than running the race set before us. Are you looking over your shoulder? Are you checking out the progress of the one who's in the lead? Has your mind already called the projected winner - and it's not you? They can do it. I can't.
Like the swimmers, are you in competition with them directly? Same pool, same race, same gold? If you're not in the same race, then why are you keeping tabs on their progress? Bear with me a moment while I draw some examples on this tab-keeping scenario on the perception of successful people.
I know two professional photographers. Both of them have different photography styles but their talent is in high demand. I am not a photographer but I can take a respectable selfie. I'm friends with an HVAC owner/operator. They have many employees, their name is on trucks all over the city and they have collected several awards for customer service. I know nothing about heating and air other than adjusting the thermostat. My family has been friends with a contractor who builds spectacular homes, has hundreds of satisfied clients and all the while maintains positions on several boards relating to construction. I am not a builder but I know the song, "If I had a hammer." I mean - rock on Peter Paul and Mary.
These people are successful and I am thrilled for their success. They're not doing what I want to do but I still have those pangs of "what do they have, that I don't?" That's when I've lost my focus and direction. I'm looking to the side and I'm getting distracted.
So what do successful people have in common? Is it hard work? Luck? Perserverance? Right place at the right time? Commitment? *Nothing* is common because every story is different. Why they got into the business...how they operate...Whether passion or talent drives them....There isn't one formula that works for everyone. I think hard work is part of it - but everyone works hard at different things. Perseverance - sure - but never giving up on what? Getting new customers, improving the craft, being really good at follow-up? It has common elements but uncommon results.
I've seen research that indicates that until you grasp the concept of your individual perception of success, you will never gain what you perceive as successful. Until you have a true understanding of what you associate with success, it will remain illusive to you until you understand it. Bottom line. You have to know what your success is - and why it's important to you. I believe from a young age, I associated success with owning a business. My biggest problem with that plan is that I had NO IDEA WHAT I BUSINESS I WANTED TO OWN. I think it's a rare individual who even in childhood had a grasp of what their passion was and how to best use it to do what they wanted to do in life.
Success isn't what I thought it would be and it's probably not what you think it is. Success can be as unique as the person believing they have it or can attain it. But one thing that I've figured out in my 44 years is that success can be different depending on your season in life. What I wanted at 20 is entirely different than what I wanted at 40 and I bet my 60 year old self would be amused at the all the things that seem important to me right now.
Doing what you love but only doing it yourself takes God out of it. Not trusting Him and His good plan for you. The screw ups I've made have given me a scenic route, but there's no where that I can go that He can't reach me. I may mess up all of the stepping stones and scatter them from here to yonder but He'll eventually rearrange every single one of them to lead me home. But here's what's important: Stepping stones are still stones after all. They're hard, course, have rough edges and sometimes stacked steep. No one said stepping stones were the stroll through a lush garden. It could be that only the tip of your toe forced into the crevice of a rock dangling from the side of a mountain is the only step you get right now. Braving the plan, the climb, the dream and the steps He needs you to take won't be easy. They never are. But here's a piece of good news... I am not clever enough to ruin His plan for me. If I've thought it, He's planned around it. The sooner I get into agreement as to what His idea of success for me then I will stop looking to the side and start climbing, walking or running the race set before me. I'll focus on my race. You focus on yours. And no looking to the side.