By Alvina Nadeem, P.Eng, ing., PPCC (Professional and Personal Certified Coach)
Before you answer that, answer this: What does success mean to you?
It is so important to ask this question to ourselves before we start measuring our success.
True success is more than just about status or money; it is much deeper than that because it is dependent on your core values as a person.
I challenge you to redefine success as something that occurs when what you are doing aligns with who you are and what you value. When you achieve that congruence, trust me, you will feel successful in your life.
10 years ago, I was graduating from McGill University as a Mechanical Engineer and was excited to embark on my professional journey. Within a few months of my first job as a field engineer, I hit a huge wall: I met the imposter syndrome.
I felt like a misfit. I thought I had made an enormous mistake in choosing this field. Here I was, a 5’2” young woman, trying to fit in with tall, large, loud men in construction! What was I thinking? How would I ever match up to that? How will I ever be in a position to lead these people if I can’t even stand as tall as them? literally!
In that moment, I felt as if I had failed myself by choosing this field. I couldn’t see a path to success.
As someone that welcomes a challenge, I kept working hard, doing the best I can and started to observe the interactions and relationships around me. I have to be honest, I couldn’t imagine being loud or commanding because it just wasn’t me, so I continued to be myself and accepted that maybe I am just meant to be where I am and that maybe leadership was not something in my cards just yet.
Overtime, I started to realize that it was easy for me to get others to collaborate and get things done without being rough, loud, or commanding. I was the person everyone naturally gravitated to because I was easy to talk to and compassionate. I showed respect to everyone I encountered regardless of rank or any other status.
I started to wonder, could this be it? Maybe, there was room for compassion and collaboration in leadership.
One day, it hit me. The problem wasn’t that I had chosen the wrong field. This is not what was failing me. What was failing me was the image of success I was holding on to, i.e. being loud and imposing.
At that moment, I was ready to let go of this image and to embrace who I am as a collaborator, listener, and negotiator. This realization was a major turning point for me and was the key to my very own success story!
If I were to answer the question I asked as the title of this piece, I would say: Yes, I am successful.
When we stop holding on to an external image of success, we make room for ourselves to build our very own definition, one based on who we are at the core.
Instead of wanting to become someone else, you suddenly have a more realistic goal: Become a future version of YOU!
I challenge you to lean in to yourself a little more, let go of the external image of success, and define your own vision of what success looks like in your life!