Present Tense

I’m successful…I think


I’m thinking about success.  What is it? How do we define it? How do we achieve it?

This is on the heels of the radio show that I co-host winning another Morning Show of the Year award from the Colorado Broadcasters Association.  It’s great to be recognized for excellence; it’s what we strive for and once we get there, it feels pretty good. Success.

But, I think that that we put professional success on a pretty high pedestal.  I’ve spent the better part of my adult life working toward professional and financial success, while letting the personal stuff slide.  Over past couple of years I’ve begun to ratchet back my hunger for professional growth in order to grow personally and spiritually.

I know that a lot of people have managed to tie the two together.   Okay, a FEW people have been able to do that.  The rest of us read their books and wish we could manage that kind of balance.

Personally, I think that trying to integrate professional and personal success is nearly impossible; it’s the big lie.  Something has to give.  Professional success requires that the job comes first. Period. Your allegiance is to the folks who write the check.  That’s the way it works in our country, for better or for worse.

Put your needs or your family’s needs first and you are seen as ‘not a team player’.  You’re ‘not committed’.  You’re told to ‘get your priorities straight’, meaning work is first.  Work is all.  Your family and personal life will just have to wait.

I understand these requirements. I get that businesses must make a profit and that business success relies on productive and committed employees.  However, I also know that people are not machines and that a personally happy employee is a professional asset.

Maybe I can question the American definition of success because by most measures, I’ve achieved it. I’ve had a long and ultimately successful career as a radio host because years ago, I committed myself fully to that goal.  I’ve done well financially and have managed to build a decent nest egg.

But, I still struggle personally.  I battle guilt, insecurity, loneliness.  I worry about growing old and who will help me do that with grace and dignity.  I feel like my marriage is in a dangerously stagnant period and I’m not sure how to pull us out of the quicksand.  Success?

On the other hand, everyone struggles, don’t they?  Life is full of challenges and in the greater scheme of things, I’ve done okay.  But, I feel like I’m not successful in the ways that really count.   The success of the soul.

Maybe the word “success” is wrong.  It sounds so definitive; so black and white.  Maybe other words would help define what I’m seeking.  Peace, meaning, acceptance, clarity, truth, wisdom.  They are all softer, gentler words, aren’t they?

Fill me in.  What is success to you?  Teach me.

March 16, 2014 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , ,


  1. Jane, I thought that working with youth and giving my time and making a fair living was fulfilling. That was until I recently traveled to a third world country and a small, poor fishing village in Bluefield’s Bay, Jamaica. The people are poor and have an enormously high teen pregnancy rate that you can trace back to how they were treated while enslaved. I had the opportunity to work for three days in their Basic School. I worked with the 5 year olds. I can honestly tell you it was the most enlightening experience since my daughter was born. The children embraced our presence and allowed us to live in the culture, not just observe it. The children do not know they are poor, they just know that they love to come to school and they love to learn. This experience really magnified the fact that many of us take what we have here for granted. We rush around to get this, and get that, rarely really thinking about what we are doing. I returned and tried to tell others about my experience and some immediately wanted to talk about how bad they had things. They have no idea. This experience changed me for life. I will return there, as the children cannot go outside due to not having a fence around the property. Now I have a goal. I will be added to the board of the non-profit being formed to help build that fence. I will also hopefully go there to help in the building. I guess I made a point somewhere in here, clearly it is not all about what we can gain financially from a situation. I hope to take my wife and daughter with me when I return. Take care. T.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | March 16, 2014 | Reply

    • TIm
      Very inspiring. Such a great experience and it proves that we NEVER stop learning, do we? One of the greatest things I’ve found with getting older is my mind is more open; I’m willing to reassess and revamp and re-direct. You, too.
      Thanks for the comment. You rock!

      Comment by janelondon | March 17, 2014 | Reply

  2. I have been thinking about this lately. There was a time, a long time, when I thought success was directly proportional to my salary. Under those terms I am an epic failure, so far from successful that it isn’t funny. My thinking has totally changed since I have reached my fifties. There is very little chance at this point that I will ever be rolling in money. I am however very successful! I look at my life completely differently than I once did. These are the benchmarks that define my success: I have been married to the same man for 25 years who loves me very much, in spite of me. Our marriage is less than perfect but we work at it. I am surrounded by friends who love me and I love back. Some of those friendships are now 40+ years old and some of them are new. I have learned how to be a good friend. I have no doubt some of these people will be my friends until I die. I am kind. I still have goals and I learn something new every day. I continue to grow as I age. I laugh every day. I love what I do for work but it doesn’t even come close to defining who I am. And for me, I am raising two children who are curious, kind, loving and unique! They may be the biggest way I measure my success. My life is rich and I am happy!

    Comment by Robin Smillie | March 16, 2014 | Reply

    • Robin
      Isn’t it funny how turning 50 seems to be such a defining moment for so many of us? It’s hard to explain, until it happens to you. An acceptance, an opening, a willingness to admit that we can always learn something new about ourselves and the rest of the world. So empowering.
      I feel better and stronger just knowing that you are a part of my circle. I knew you would have a perspective:)

      Comment by janelondon | March 17, 2014 | Reply

      • All of what you say is true. Sometimes I wish it would have happened a little earlier, like 40 but I probably wouldn’t have recognized it’s significance if it had happened then. Thanks for your kind words about me. I feel the same way about you. Looking forward to more time together as we start to thaw out.

        Comment by Robin Smillie | March 18, 2014

  3. You can be successful in other countries and you still get like 6 weeks of vacation and 1 year of maternity leave, or something like that. We are just different in the U.S. and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is a challenge. But I like this definition of success which has been around a while, it has been attributed to RW Emerson but that is probably incorrect, it is more what I strive towards:
    “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

    Comment by Jessi | March 16, 2014 | Reply

    • Jessi
      That’s a pretty good definition. Thanks for sharing it.

      Comment by janelondon | March 17, 2014 | Reply

  4. Just your pondering it makes you successful in a way that eludes most. You are ever evolving and learning. To me that is success. I have always admired you and your whole life. The personal and the professional. Just thought I would share.

    Comment by talktraffic28 | March 16, 2014 | Reply

  5. I don’t know. It’s different for everyone, I guess. We don’t have much of a nest egg, but we both like our jobs and our kid is relatively normal (for a 15 year old). I have a small, but wonderful group of friends, and after 23 years, my husband and I still like each other. So, in my mind, I’m successful.

    Comment by shellybelly12 | March 16, 2014 | Reply

    • Small victories. Worth celebrating.

      Comment by janelondon | March 17, 2014 | Reply

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