Monday, March 12, 2012


We had an amazing party at my aunts this past weekend that included Oysters steamed on an outdoor fire, homemade wine (maybe a little too much!) and plenty of fellowship! So much fun!

How does one define success?

Google said something like:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  2. The attainment of popularity or profit.

Humm.. very interesting definitions, especially the second one. I thought about this question all morning during my swim, after in the sauna and then during my lift (well, maybe not so much during my lift since I was killing myself to get five reps of back squat).

I find the second point on success very interesting because it's just so, well, shallow. It's very society oriented.

It's fairly obvious that success means so many things to different people. You can see it as a function of everything from happiness to dollar signs.

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
David Brinkley

The older I get, the more I think about this concept of success. When I was younger I always thought it had to do with either making more money or having more status. It seemed that my parents or others would always talk about someone who was "successful" as having a high paying career where they could travel, take care of their family well, send their kids to the best schools or that others looked up to / had power or influence. For some reason, I never really thought much about those things myself growing up. Would I have enough money to live - of course I would!?! Why wouldn't I?

Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks in building any successful venture.
Lydia M. Child

As I've seen those around me who the world may label as "successful" defined in the terms above crumble under either the pressure of a high-powered career or a failed marriage due to never spending time together I started to understand that the world's definition of success was diverging very rapidly from what I believed. I realized that term could almost be deemed meaningless if the things that matter most to you no longer existed.

Failure is success if we learn from it.
Malcolm Forbes

These days I'm questioning success on a whole new level. If success is defined by making more money than you were before, well.. that's out the window for me! I'm certainly not! In fact, for the first time in my life Kyle and I are committed to a budget wholeheartedly and sometimes it doesn't include the things I used to indulge in. We are both making sacrifices so that I can travel to races and earn a little less. It's not easy by any stretch, but I think it's well worth it. If success is defined by waking up every day excited about what you're doing, feeling like God has blessed you in inconsiderable ways, or being happy you're alive.. well, then those things I'm kicking butt at successfully!

I've also given a lot of thought to this first season in terms of success. Prior, success had something to do with getting to Kona for a chance to compete against the best in world (which in October, I if you look at just results - I failed miserably!, so take that success! lol!). These days, I'm looking at redefining success again in triathlon on a very personal level. Would I like to do really well? Podium? Go to Kona eventually? SURE! Do I really think those are all realistic goals for this year.. well, maybe.. ok.. I mean, we'll certainly see, but in actuality it's going to more than likely be a really hard adjustment to this style of racing, the amount of training it's going to take to get there and the level of experience it takes to actually place at an event as a professional. Kelly Williamson has had an amazing season.. you know how many seasons she's been doing this.. TEN. Yep, ten years at the professional level. She's incredibly talented, but her talent and experience have come together in such a way that she is just kicking tail and man is it exciting to see.. but you can't forget the years before this one where I'm sure she asked herself all the same questions that I am right now.

Do I think it's impossible to do well this season.. heck no! Am I doing my best to prepare to come out of the gate swinging - absofreakinlutely.

I'm also smart enough to know that the best definitions for success will be that I'm healthy all year, that I learn how to race as a professional, that I take my recovery seriously by stretching and doing the little things I never used to do, that I improve on my personal bests, that I become a 9 hr Ironwomen (darn I want that one bad!), that I still balance my family life and am thankful for the opportunity and that I still love racing, training and am committed to becoming the best a coach/dietitian I possibly can.

Quite different than before huh?

I thought so. It was tough to lay those things out there.. to know that it won't necessarily be podiums that "define" success for me but rather things that might eventually lead to podiums. If I do those things right, the podiums will come. If I put my heart and soul into those things.. then God will work out the rest if he deems it so.

We all have different definitions of success. They don't have to be the same and they don't have to be about results. In fact, the results are fun and the goals are necessary to have realistic measures of our progress but they don't have to define our "success" in the sport. How happy are you when you a running on a clear day with your friends chatting it up? How does your heart feel when you climb a hill and look over a glowing field at sunset from your bike? How high is your spirit when you cross that finish line - arms raised to the sky feeling like you could take on the world, so thankful for your health and this chance to put it all on the line?

Sometimes success is the hours and hours, days and months of training that just happened to result in a better blood lipid profile or healthier BMI ;) or just getting the to starting line, healthy and with your family in tow to watch your day unfold. Sometimes that's the best success of all.

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.
George Burns

I don't know about you.. but the world's definition of success is a pretty long way away from my own these days and I think it's a sign I'm doing things right. I think it's a sign that I've stopped thinking about clothes, hair and makeup and that I spend more time being thankful for my health, my family and my husband. I think it's a sign that I wake up happy and excited every morning about what the day holds. That's my success and it has NOTHING to do with what I have in the bank, on my back, or what people think about me or my life.

I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
Jonathan Winters

If nothing else, maybe this will encourage you to define success on your own.. make it yours... feel little pieces of it and continue to seek it out...

I hope so.. because you deserve that... we all do.

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan


Steve said...

Interesting. I love when you go on your thoughtful rants. We all think of things at times, and I think you do a good job of expressing yourself.

Good Luck. :)

Christi said...

I am loving that I can follow this journey with you. I will find the courage to follow my path because I can't afford not to.

Thanks sweetie! Now go get some awesome training done for today!

ADC said...

Love love love this post.

The Triathlon Rx said...

That second definition also caused my eyebrows to raise. The way I define success (and the tools I use to measure it) within my own life have definitely changed over the years. Two of my favorite verses pretty much sum it up for me...

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

“Where your treasure is, there also is your heart.” (Matthew 6:21)