When I was a child, my parents led me to believe that success looked like learning my times tables, following the rules, and being polite to strangers.
When I was a teenager, success looked like making straight A’s, steering clear of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, and guarding my virginity until I got married.
When I was a medical student and resident, my professors led me to believe that success looked like showing up early, staying late, sacrificing my personal needs for the needs of my patients, coming to work when I was sick, prioritizing my work over my family or friends, overdelivering, curing patients without ever screwing up, and helping out my fellow residents, even if it was long past when I wanted to go home.
When I was a practicing physician, my colleagues led me to believe that success looked like a schedule full of patients, 72 hour call shifts during which I worked my ass off without ever making mistakes, efficiency in the exam room so I could blow through 40 patients a day, billing enough to bring in my fair share of revenue, perfection in the operating room, the adoration of my patients, a six figure income and a house with an ocean view, and being voted among San Diego’s Top Doctors.
When I was forging ahead in my art career, people led me to believe that success looked like being represented by many galleries, getting my art shown in museums, big ticket art sales, and name recognition for my work.
Now I work in an industry where there’s no limit to the amount of external success you can achieve – books, blogs, online programs, public speaking, conferences, magazine articles, television talk shows – the big leagues.
In the past, I let other people define success for me. But this time around, I’m committed to doing it differently.