Maybe it’s my outlook on the world, or my constant soul searching, or my unending attempt to find peace with my circumstance, but I seem to be communicating with many unhappy people lately. I’ve always been a person that others are comfortable talking to, sharing with, unloading on, and I like being a good listener. I try to be empathetic and I try to offer solid, heartfelt, and thoughtful advice. But it seems in the last month or so, the population around me is growing in its dissatisfaction and intolerance of the world around them.
I was speaking with someone just the other day who is unhappy in her job. She was very vocal about her struggles and challenges, siting examples of how she is unappreciated, undervalued, disrespected, and defeated. I can certainly relate, as I have been in similar positions in my career.
As we talked, she told me a success story of a woman she read about who had taken time off to have a family, and once her children reached school age, she decided it was time to reinvent herself in the workforce. Her husband had encouraged her to take some time away from distractions and really reflect on her true passions to figure out where to focus her energy. She decided to open a small boutique, which grew into a franchise, then an online store, and success just “fell in her lap.”
At the end of her story, she said, “How does that happen? Who just takes a moment of reflection and turns it into that much success? Why can’t I have that?”
I didn’t say these words exactly, but I told her, ‘You can start by not complaining about how much you are undervalued and underpaid, and start paying more attention to how you value yourself.’
We put a lot of weight on what others think of us, especially those in positions of power. But is that validation ever really going to be enough if we ourselves aren’t taking pride in our own work, putting forth 100% of ourselves, and feeling satisfied by the results we produce?
I was in a situation today where I allowed myself to question my own character because of something someone else said to me. I was disappointed in myself for allowing that to happen, and I had to remind myself that oftentimes people demean others to empower themselves. Just because someone tells me I am not ‘worth’ a certainly salary range, or don’t ‘deserve’ a promotion, or aren’t ‘right’ for a job, does not determine my quality of character.
Character – being true to who you are, standing by what you believe, being secure and confident and loyal – trumps money, power, and prestige any day. To me, character is the true measure of success.
I work very hard to be a good employee, a good coworker, a good friend, a good daughter, a good wife, and a good mother to my angel in Heaven. It may not always be enough and I am certainly not perfect. But that is my 100%. That is the only way I know how to have success, whatever that may look like.