‘What is your definition of success Jane and are you driven my money.’ This is a question I continue to get asked in and out of the classroom, by teenagers, teachers, the media, clients, peers and general connections.
So let’s deal with the money issue first. I was brought up in a wealthy family with no great benefit emotionally, mentally or otherwise. I was well educated yet still alone and broke at 16. Furthermore, throughout my entrepreneurial journey I have ridden the wealth to near bankrupt rollercoaster atleast twice and survived!
Clearly, money does not define success for me! However, don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of poverty either. The world has enough poor people, we need capable, motivated people to step up and create wealth more than ever today but and it’s a BIG BUT…. The majority of wealth on display in the Rich Lists of the western world is not making a difference or contributing to society in any way, shape or form. It is paying for £25k an hour tax lawyers; £21m weddings (yes I said £21 million); £24k private car registration plates, £4m walk in wardrobes and so on. I have no issue with people who make millions and people who spend millions I just wish they understood the power of their wealth and the difference their philanthropy could make to the world, as well as enjoying the finer things in life.
Now before you start quoting the stories of Branson, Gates, Oprah, JK Rowling and Warren Buffet. I am well aware of and inspired by these enlightened entrepreneurs, who like me, subscribe to wealth contribution and social enterprise, but believe me they are in a minority. For every Branson there are thousands of seriously wealthy individuals and families who do nothing with their dosh other than over indulge, over consume and overcharge our environment!
Now, back to my definition of success. For me true wealth is what’s left when the money has gone!
I consider these things to include a positive and empowering mindset, emotional resilience, health, friends, family and peers, passion, wisdom, self belief and connections. No matter what happens in life if you have invested in these things, you will be able to recover from anything and reinvent yourself at will. So for me failure is not the end it is simply a lesson, a stop along the way, a chance to reflect and recharge. Many entrepreneurs feel the same way and are proud of their failures, it makes them stronger, more resilient and hones their passion.
So, my definition of success? For me, it is about personal growth, influence, connection, passion, authenticity and love. Successful people come from all walks of life but tend to stand out – their energy and passion is palpable, they infect their environment, their love of self and life is contagious. These are the people I choose to hang around with and if they are also financially wealthy then so be it. The two are not mutually exclusive and you can be sure if they are in my peer group they will be using their wealth in a positive way to change the world.