Success is an Inside Job

By Susan Ford Collins

We’re all too familiar with the long hours and hard work of success. But what happened to the joy of success… that soaring feeling we felt earlier in our lives, when others planned our lives for us, told us what to do and how to do it, awarded and rewarded us?

Relying on other people to plan and acknowledge our successes for us works when we’re brand new at something… a new skill or a new job… but to feel successful longterm, we must take over these responsibilities ourselves.

But most people don't. Why?

The answer is simple… habit.

As children, we were trained to feel successful when our parents and teachers gave us smiles, hugs and treats, good grades and prizes. Or they quietly took us aside and promised, "I'll give you a hundred dollars when you..."

They called it motivation. But the motivation to do what?

The motivation to do the tried, true and familiar? Or the untried and unfamiliar, the new, unique and unexpected?

Creativity is scary… but it's where you find personal satisfaction and fulfillment!

Creativity isn’t agreed with. And it’s far more uncomfortable than most people can tolerate! Especially parents, teachers and employers.

If we don’t break this deeply-ingrained, success-seeking habit and start praising ourselves, we will have to spend our lives completing other people’s dreams and values, but not our own. That’s a huge price to pay for an outgrown unconscious habit that makes us dependent on other peoples’ opinions, values and reactions! Like driving from the passenger side of our car instead of grabbing the wheel ourselves and steering to the destinations we uniquely hold in our minds and hearts.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

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