CNN #1: How I Redefined Success (and You Can Too)

May 09, 2022

I'm fortunate that I constantly have conversations with some extraordinary human beings

For example, some of my recent conversations include:

  • One entrepreneur who built a company that has helped its clients generate a billion dollars plus in revenue, yet he’s working through imposter syndrome…
  • Another has been taking a series of larger steps, personally and professionally, to include being more vocal about her story in order to lead others AND declaring her quest to find love after a divorce and a long dating hiatus…
  • And, another walked away from an exceptionally lucrative corporate career (Fortune 10, C-Suite) to dive right into going out on her own and tackling all the deprogramming, growth, and identity work that comes along with it.
  • And, another has been creating a series of opportunities and investments for himself after stepping away from his corporate role into a new, personally designed way of BEing that offers his freedom, impact, and profitability (three words that are music to my ears).

They are all creative, resourceful, and committed…

Leaning into building from their hearts guiding their heads, versus the other way around.

They are my kind of humans.

Those conversations and how they zig where others zag…

The relentless pursuit of what they want, see and can feel they are creating (even when it isn’t crystal clear nor “all mapped out”) inspires me…

And they ALL have visions I'm excited to get behind and support - whatever that looks like.

Those conversations also got me thinking about success and how I've come to define it for myself. 

Each of them achieved what most people deem traditional, status quo “success” and… 

While they are grateful for it…

They were left wanting something more.

That's something I've experienced more than once in my life and to which I can totally relate. 

So, here’s what came to me as I sat with those observations and insights…

Success is mine to define, is holistic, and does not compromise. It encompasses all aspects of my life and meets three criteria: freedom, impact, and profitability.

(read that out loud before reading on)

It’s Mine (Yours) to Define

A friend of mine and I were talking about processes versus frameworks in a recent FB LIVE.

For me, frameworks (like values) are guides while processes (like rules) are more rigid.

BTW - I’ve always been a “rule breaker.” 

(shocking to some, based on my military background...and no surprise to those who know me well :))

The important piece here is to envision, critically, what you want your life to look like…

And step into that immediately.

This is something I (you) can do right NOW.

It’s Holistic

I’m the last guy to hate on physical possessions. 

While I’m not a car guy, I love our boats. I love the freedom they easily provide me to have experiences on the water (primarily fishing) with family and friends.

My attachment to them, as I see it, is as vehicles (literally and figuratively) for the intrinsic fulfillment I get from experiencing nature and doing so with those closest to me.

Take them away...I’m still getting on the water and doing all the aforementioned :).

They simply make it easier…

This brings me to the holistic part of success, for me. 

It’s defining the feeling...the feeling of success. The feeling as a place to come from versus arrive.

Extrinsic trappings (money, houses, boats, planes, etc.) can help connect me to those experiences…

AND the pursuit of them can definitely, as I’ve experienced, suck the joy out too.

So, for me, there needs to be a broader, more holistic definition of success… 

Which can be changed by making new decisions.

This is something I (you) can do right NOW.

It Requires No Compromise

How often do you find yourself saying things like...

“Yeah, but s/he’s really successful.”

"Sure, I'd give up "x" for "y" amount of money."

What does that mean to you? What does that mean you’re willing to compromise in order to achieve? What's "important" but can be bought or bartered for something else?

Compromise becomes a true test of where we say we are committed versus our true commitment.

I’ll give you an example…

I have two children: 25 and 8. 

When my 25-year-old was much younger, I often made compromises which I believed would lead to more “success” that…

even when achieved…

left me feeling more empty. I felt I didn’t live my word. I didn’t live my spoken values…

Because I exchanged “x” for “y.”

I wavered.

That is something I am exceptionally vigilant about with BOTH of my kids now.

As well, it’s something I step into and live NOW.

BE-ing vs. DO-ing 

Whether this conversation of defining and stepping into your vision of success NOW is easy or presents friction (or, maybe it doesn’t land at all)…

It does require the belief that success is a state of BE-ing versus DO-ing.

EVERYTHING I outlined above requires one thing only from me in order to achieve success… 

BE-ing the human who…

  • owns the responsibility and actions of creating my own success.
  • holistically checks in that I’m feeding intrinsic creation (rather than focusing solely on the extrinsic outcomes).
  • achieves success without compromising what I say is most important to me.

“Hell Yes” or “Hell No.”

And those are ALL things I can choose to BE - RIGHT NOW.

So, I’m curious…

What comes up for you as you read this?

And, how do you define being successful, right now?

I'm in this with you, shoulder-to-shoulder,


Kevin M. Kermes

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